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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN Humanoid On Video

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the somebody-help-john-connor-hide dept.

Robotics 70

An anonymous reader writes "IEEE reports that Boston Dynamics has unveiled video footage showing its biped humanoid robot PETMAN walking, kneeling, and doing push-ups. Boston Dynamics is building the robot for the U.S. Army, which will use it to test chemical protective suits for soldiers. The requirement was that the robot had to be the approximate size of a 50th percentile adult male (180 pounds, nearly 6 feet tall) and capable of a full range of dynamic movements. The company says PETMAN could also be used to survey disaster zones and access hazardous environments."

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70 comments

A military robot that can kneel. (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899184)

A military robot that can kneel?

Our military robots should kneel to no man (or bot). If it is going to kneel- can it least learn how to bake eclaires too?

Re:A military robot that can kneel. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905312)

Envision those "arms" holding a rifle in the firing position and things start to make more sense...

T800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899198)

First kill.

Re:T800 (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899248)

According to the Army requirements, the robot has to have about the same weight and dimensions of a 50th percentile male (the size of a standard crash-test dummy), or a mass of 80 kilograms (about 180 pounds) and height of about 1.75 meters (nearly 6 feet). PETMAN also has to simulate respiration, sweating, and changes in skin temperature based on the amount of physical exertion. Boston Dynamics used motion-capture systems to study the movements of humans as they performed a variety of exercises.

Yep.

Re:T800 (2)

ajs (35943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899420)

Yeah, the "Respiration, sweating," etc. threw me off too. My guess, based on the rest of the article is that the requirement isn't that it sweat and breathe, but that it not produce more moisture or heat than a human under the same exertion. That would allow it to use equipment that was tested with humans such as weaponry, testing equipment for dangerous environments or bomb-defusing tools. For example, if it threw off lots of heat when walking, it might not be something you want to use for bomb disposal...

Re:T800 (1)

cycleflight (1811074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37948394)

It's actually the other way around. They're designing the robot to put identical physical inputs into hardware that humans would. This allows them to test said hardware (like a chemical suit, for example) in real, hazardous environments, and to stress that hardware in ways it would be stressed in the real world, but without putting a human test subject's life at risk.

The push-ups are lame. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899222)

The push-ups are lame.

The walking, however, is totally badass.

But, as with all Boston Dynamics video releases, we have to ask: where is its head?

Re:The push-ups are lame. (4, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899258)

Yeah a robot called "PET MAN" that kneels and has no head.

This robot must have been designed by a woman.

Re:The push-ups are lame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901664)

and you would be more than correct!

Also notice shape, and color of the tiny "head" which will eventually lead to the one track mind that women are so fond of referring to when talking about men!

Re:The push-ups are lame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899304)

It has a flashing light for a head. That means it's always getting ideas.

Re:The push-ups are lame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37902076)

No, it means the connection to VIKI is active. We're doomed!

Fucking awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899224)

See subject.

Gonna Fly Now (2)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899240)

Am I the only one who heard the Rocky theme song in my head while I watched it?

If the robot starts punching meat we know we got a contenda

(until then, you're a bum PETMAN! A BUM!)

Re:Gonna Fly Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899500)

Am I the only one who heard the Rocky theme song in my head while I watched it?

If the robot starts punching meat we know we got a contenda

Yeah.

I was imagining it saying, "Fock you ass-hull." and "Hasta La Vista, Baby!" in an Austrian accent.

And then, I was just imaging the psychological effect on troops facing that in battle.

Think about this - currently, we have a group of people fighting another group that has superior weapons but holding their own because of the fear humans have about dying - US forces vs. Insurgents. The insurgents are doing a pretty good job considering that all they have are RPGs, AK-47s and IEDs.

Now, imagine how far they'd have gotten if they were fighting machines.

Now, imagine if the powers that be gave the machines orders to do things that a human being wouldn't or couldn't do to another human and then blamed the incident on a "computer glitch".

Official: "We are horrified by what our mechanized division did to that town. They were just to get the insurgents and the fact that the machines exterminated every man, woman, child and baby horrifies us!. The insurgency has been crushed, by the way."

Considering some of the horseshit I have been hearing from my fellow countrymen in the last several years, I don't think there would be too much outrage over the first statement and as far as the second, I think an attitude of "Oh well, war is Hell."

Don't think it would happen? Just read the tidbits about the unmanned drone attacks. If these things become autonomous .....

Re:Gonna Fly Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899648)

That kind of war could be fought with missiles right now if someone wanted to, boots on the ground can hand a child a bottle of water or help defend engineers as they rewire a village after repeated bombings.

Just sayin'

Re:Gonna Fly Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37900212)

But a big enough bomb (or enough of them) means you don't have to worry about rebuilding villages.

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it", etc

Re:Gonna Fly Now (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37906046)

That kind of war could be fought with missiles right now if someone wanted to, boots on the ground can hand a child a bottle of water or help defend engineers as they rewire a village after repeated bombings.

Just sayin'

No, you couldn't fight a war like that, because human being have to authorise the launch of the missiles and human beings are accountable for their actions.

Re:Gonna Fly Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37904452)

> Am I the only one who heard the Rocky theme song in my head while I watched it?

Yes. Most of us were hear the theme from The Terminator.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899260)

I for one welcome our new walking, kneeling, and pushing-up overlords

Creepawesome (2)

bratloaf (1287954) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899278)

Sorry, Ive been a bit out of the robotics loop lately, but holey freaking crap. If that isnt "uncanny valley" freaky, I dont know what is. It seems we really will see something resembling 100% humanoid robots in my lifetime. Tethered or not (think factory worker, hazmat, or ... military...) this is amazingly cool (creepy).

Re:Creepawesome (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901964)

I agree, the walk certainly was on the edge of uncanny vally, more than anything else I've seen. (Then again, I'm not that surprised, I think the Boston Dynamics guys have been at the leading edge of walker technology since before they were even Boston Dynamics.) However, I don't think what we saw was really a tethered design, it looks like it's just a stopgap until they have compact enough power source, and don't care about gathering real-time telemetry?

Great sex toy (2)

zazenation (1060442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899288)

Pet _MAN
How appropriate.

It will be a hit with woman.

It let's itself be pushed around,
It checks the toilet seat state.
It proposes on one knee.

The only flaw I see, is that it only seems to know the missionary position...

Re:Great sex toy (1)

Massacrifice (249974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899922)

Except in french, where PET translates to FART. Oh well, It might sell well in some perverted Parisians circles.

Re:Great sex toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37900330)

The only flaw I see, is that it only seems to know the missionary position...
There are more than a few women who are just fine with that, sadly.

Power? (2)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899292)

These robots they're developing are cool and everything but their usefulness seems very limited until someone can come up with a suitable power supply. Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem like we're anywhere close to something that could fit inside this robot and power it for any significant length of time.

Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899518)

It is a research platform for movement, balance and agility.

Re:Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899858)

Nonsense... we should do none of those researches until we have the power situation sorted out... their robot is obviously not as good as the robot I could build if only my mom's basement was larger.

Re:Research (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37906156)

It is a research platform for movement, balance and agility.

I thought it was supposed to be for the military to use in actual testing?

Re:Power? (1)

thejaq (2495514) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899954)

It would pretty easy to build a gas turbine w/ genset at 1 kW/kg I think. Anyway, add 15kg for a 15kW power plant. Assume 30% net efficiency * energy of petrol (45MJ/kg) = 15,000 kJ/kg of fuel. So each kg of fuel gives a run time of ~4hr. So 20 kg in weight you would have the strength of 11 horses for 20 hours. I don't know, that's frightening to me. Good thing I'll be able to hear that 100,000 RPM gas turbine at 300 yards....

you forgot about accumulators, you wouldn't hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901520)

It's enough to have 10 min reserve to run 1 mile and shot...

Re:Power? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901032)

My house has plenty of places for a humanoid robot to plug itself into. We have also been know to use extension cords, so that doesn't seem to be too much of a stretch. In fact, the building codes in my area say that you cannot build a house with the electrical outlets more than 12 feet apart.

Re:Power? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901074)

My house has plenty of places for a humanoid robot to plug itself into. We have also been know to use extension cords, so that doesn't seem to be too much of a stretch. In fact, the building codes in my area say that you cannot build a house with the electrical outlets more than 12 feet apart.

Unfortunately and teenagers notwithstanding, houses are not typical warzones.

Re:Power? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901714)

It says in the description of the video that this robot is used to test clothing.

It does all sorts of movements that soldiers would do, that's how you test clothing.

Re:Power? (1)

Ch_Omega (532549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905050)

It says in the description of the video that this robot is used to test clothing.

It does all sorts of movements that soldiers would do, that's how you test clothing.

It also says this in tfa:

"I also asked Raibert if they could eventually use PETMAN or PETMAN-related technologies in other projects. In other words, are we going to see PETMAN used in applications other than the chemical suit tests? "You bet," he says. "There are all sorts of things robots like PETMAN could be used for. Any place that has been designed for human access, mobility, or manipulation skills. Places like the Fukushima reactors could be accessed by PETMAN-like robots (or AlphaDogs), without requiring any human exposure to hazardous materials. Perhaps firefighting inside of buildings or facilities designed for human access, like on board ships designed for human crews." This, of course, will mean another big challenge for his team: Transforming the humanoid from a tethered system into a free standing, self-contained robot. Boston Dynamics, however, has already demonstrated its ability to transition to tether-less machines with its BigDog project."

Re:Power? (1)

Ch_Omega (532549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905038)

They managed to create a suitable internal powerplant for BigDog, one of their other robots, all the way back in 2008, while still having it tethered inn other, later videos of testing inside, so who know, maybe they have a powerplant designed for Petman too, and just prefere to have it stable enough first, before they progress to untethered testing? Or maybe the sound of the powerplant, resembling a swarm of bees, is something that would drive them crazy during testing inside, and they therefore prefers the tethered design? :) Here's a video of the untethered Bigdog, from the same company: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww [youtube.com]

Can it be untethered? (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899316)

Impressive but, can it be untethered? If so, for how long?

Re:Can it be untethered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899526)

Didn't see it in the article, it can probably stay untethered for around 5 minutes before running out of power. :)

Re:Can it be untethered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899680)

No. The final design is for the tether to be at the ankle. It will have skin that is warm to the touch and it will perspire.

Please not the disaster zones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899320)

The company says PETMAN could also be used to survey disaster zones and access hazardous environments.

If I were in a disaster and suddenly saw one of these things walking around, I'd be thinking, "Oh, crap! The Terminators have arrived!"

Not that big of an achievement! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899382)

Make him climb stairs and we can talk. :)

The new Buster (1)

mmmmbeer (107215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899556)

Mythbusters totally need one of these. I can already see them covering it with dead pig parts for use as a human analogue.

Re:The new Buster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899826)

Mythbusters are two of these. Two robots without heads - freakin' idiots!!

Come with me if you want to live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899588)

Looks like skynet takes a big step forward!

Do the top 1% percent need us? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899892)

I wonder what will the occupy wall street and 99% movements will make of this. Democracy can't work in presence of assembly lines of robot soldiers and workers. The technology is not there yet, but will be before the next generation is 30-40 years old.

Re:Do the top 1% percent need us? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901352)

This is the first intelligent remark in this thread. I wonder if human society in general can work in the large scale presence of robot soldiers and workers. Robotic technology is advancing far more quickly than I had expected. The next 20 or 30 years are not going to be boring. Who owns the robots owns the wealth.

Re:Do the top 1% percent need us? (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904376)

That's surprisingly insightful. These robots still have a long way to go before they could be useful combat troops - but they're getting too close for comfort.

Here's my prediction: when robotic combat troops are deployed, they'll be deployed against American citizens.

Re:Do the top 1% percent need us? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37909468)

Of course, they will not be called "combat troops." They are too close for comfort for pretty much any purpose you can mention. We are at the tail end of 2011. What will they be like in 2014? 2018? 2025? Barring tragic accidents or medical issues, most of us sitting here watching the video will live to see the walking, talking, working, patrolling descendants of PetMan. May the gods have mercy on our souls, for I fear the owners of the robots will not.

Re:Do the top 1% percent need us? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37906280)

Who owns the robots owns the wealth.

Then humanity should own the robots collectively. A system with a handful of people owning 99% of the world's wealth will not be sustainable.

Re:Do the top 1% percent need us? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37909416)

A system with a handful of people owning 99% of the world's wealth will not be sustainable.

Alas, my friend, it has been sustainable for the better part of 30,000 years.

Soon to be Diesel-powered (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899928)

Petman doesn't have a standalone power requirement. It's partly for equipment testing and partly a technology testbed. BigDog is powered by a small gasoline engine, and AlphaDog will be Diesel-powered.

I want to see him riding BigDog... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901612)

I want to see him riding BigDog...

Great, just great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37901924)

Boston Dynamics: Because Massive Dynamic's experiments were too conservative.

Has to sweat? (1)

AmbushBug (71207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37902110)

From the article:

According to the Army requirements, the robot has to have about the same weight and dimensions of a 50th percentile male (the size of a standard crash-test dummy), or a mass of 80 kilograms (about 180 pounds) and height of about 1.75 meters (nearly 6 feet). PETMAN also has to simulate respiration, sweating, and changes in skin temperature based on the amount of physical exertion.

Emphasis mine. Anyone know why the Army wants a robot that respires, sweats and changes skin temp? Weird...

Re:Has to sweat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37903156)

The robot needs to sweat so that proper clothing can be made for our troops. The United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) in Natick, Massachusetts is a wizard at producing uniform and clothing designs that can properly protect the soldier in the varied battlefields that they may be deployed in. The control of perspiration is needed not just for hot deployments but for vigorous action in arctic temperatures where moist clothing can lead to rapid frostbite of death.

Re:Has to sweat? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37903708)

Anyone know why the Army wants a robot that respires, sweats and changes skin temp? Weird...

The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy, but these are new. They look human... sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot.

Re:Has to sweat? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37910606)

The stated claim that it is for uniform and clothing designs is ludicrous. No sane person would embark on an android creation program for such a purpose. This is part of a long-term robot creation program, pure and simple. They are coming to a city and town near you. Maybe not today, maybe not next year, but we have all just seen a snapshot of the future.
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