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11-lb Robot Can Jump 30 Feet Into the Air

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the there-goes-the-neighborhood dept.

Robotics 68

Ruvim writes "Boston Dynamics has developed a 'Sand Flea' 11-lb robot that drives like an RC car, but when it needs to, it can jump 30 feet into the air. An onboard stabilization system keeps it oriented during flight to improve the view from the video uplink and to control landings."

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68 comments

Leading to conversations like... (3, Funny)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501639)

Amir... I think we have fleas!!!

Re:Leading to conversations like... (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502145)

Robot fleas launched from Big Dog motherships (motherdogs, motherbots?)

Re:Leading to conversations like... (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503161)

Big Dog motherships (motherdogs, motherbots?)

Bitches, obviously.

What ya get when you cross Bio Dog with Sand Flea? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503651)

Imagine Boston Dynamic merging this sand flea bot with their bio dog bot -- it would be an awesome jumping dawg !

One day... (5, Funny)

SexyHamster (174881) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501649)

One day Boston Dynamics is going to combine all these robots together and kill us all.

Re:One day... (2)

Tommy Bologna (2431404) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501979)

I'm sure you think you're kidding.

Re:One day... (3, Funny)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503365)

Jumps 11 feet in the air, Skynet. Coincidence? I think not.

Re:One day... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39503363)

This device was specifically designed to hurdle the walls that typically surround Middle-Eastern housing, then detonate an incendiary/shrapnel weapon. There are currently other weapons designed to take out people hiding behind obstacles, such as shotgun slugs designed for firing over the heads of a target that explode at pre-programmed distances.

I have an uncle that once said to me "We don't drop enough bombs." He is a designer of bombs at General Dynamics.

Family or not, these are the people that should be loaded into the Soylent Green hoppers first, if they ever bring us to that state.

Re:One day... (4, Insightful)

chihowa (366380) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503445)

Family or not, these are the people that should be loaded into the Soylent Green hoppers first, if they ever bring us to that state.

Who are you joking? These are the people who will design the Soylent Green hoppers.

It's cool (4, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501699)

It's a nice RC toy, but how is it a robot? Just having a receiver, an electric motor to drive and some spring mechanism and a person controlling it over radio makes a robot?

Re:It's cool (1)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501777)

From the article: "An onboard stabilization system keeps it oriented during flight to improve the view from the video uplink and to control landings."

Re:It's cool (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502343)

It's still just a remote controlled vehicle. RC helicopters have onboard gyros to keep them pointing in one direction, doesn't make them robots.

Re:It's cool (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503379)

What is your definition of a robot then?

Re:It's cool (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503953)

Autonomous.

Re:It's cool (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504115)

The simplest definition:
A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.

A better definition:
any machine or mechanical device that operates automatically with humanlike skill.

Re:It's cool (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504121)

I know i'm being nitpicky, but I guess i'd like the see the word reserved for machines that exhibit some higher level of autonomous operation. In many people's minds, a robot should display goal setting beyond, "maintain attitude". It should recognize threats and impediments to it's task and make it's own decisions to get around them. I feel like a self driving car is more of a robot than the stuff coming out of Boston Dynamics.

BigDog's ability to maintain balance when kicked is impressive, but I have a hard time applying the term robot to it. To qualify as robot it seems like there should be an AI that's capable of detecting when a person is about to kick it and scurrying away. It would be really impressive if it learned to recognize who has a high probability of kicking it and set goals to avoid those people if possible.

To me, and i think may others, all these Boston Dynamics contraptions are vehicles, and impressive ones at that, which may someday be paired with a more advanced AI to fulfill our romantic notions of a robot.

Re:It's cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39504979)

Maintaining balance in a dynamic environment (e.g. getting kicked in the side and then recovering to continue) IS an example of AI, and qualifies Big Dog as "ROBOT" in all caps. It's not being remotely controlled and is operating autonomously. It's being told, essentially, "go from here to there," and making it's own decisions about path, obstacle avoidance, handling terrain with all the various limb positioning to maintain balance and locomotion required and also being able to react to being unexpectedly kicked in the slats.

It might not be able to make decisions about which oil it prefers or converse with people about the latest news, but it's certainly qualified as being a robot. Things don't have to be C-3PO to qualify as one.

Re:It's cool (1)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506077)

Industrial Robot [wikipedia.org] is what I think of when I think of robot, and this isn't that far from that, and it is autonomous for some parts of it's journey. But my reasoning might be slightly handicapped by the fact that in Swedish robot also means missile. :-/

Re:It's cool (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507479)

What is your definition of a robot then?

Something that can't be bargained with, or reasoned with. Something that doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And something that absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Re:It's cool (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507493)

That's a terminator.

Re:It's cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39515077)

Or suicide bomber.

Re:It's cool (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503945)

And from the video, even that doesn't look particularly true. I wouldn't call it "keeping it oriented" if it involves a nearly 90-degree spin before it lands again.

i used to bullseye wamp rats in my t-16 (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503919)

back home, and they arent much bigger than a receiver, an electric motor, and some spring mechanism.

Re:It's cool (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504095)

Right now it is, they are only at platform stage. It's not all that difficult to install gps capable path-finding code on that little thing. Once that is complete, all you really need is a swarm of those with c4 payload to deal with tanks, artilleries, personae... you name it. Just para in like 50 of those with pre-programmed coordinates, and things go "kaboom".

locomotion demonstrator vs. navigating (1)

steve.cri (2593117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507483)

no one claimed it was autonomous or intelligent or whatever. just a demonstrator for a mode of locomotion: a small wheeled vehicle that jumps really high and doesn't break in the process. Autonomously navigating that thing would pose one major problem: how is it supposed to know where it is going when jumping onto higher terrain? Like, the roof in the video, how could it see there was in fact a roof and not a bottomless pit? it could possibly team up with an airborne unit relaying its extended field of view. Or, you could make these things real cheap, and let them "lemming" into unknown terrain on the basis of trial-and-error and swarm intelligence.

Re:locomotion demonstrator vs. navigating (1)

phaggood (690955) | about 2 years ago | (#39515101)

> how could it see there was in fact a roof and not a bottomless pit?
I'd assume the drone flying overhead a few miles away would tell it.

frumpy poise (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501747)

tries to work out GPE ... too confused to do it with units based on an 11th century King's knackerbag.

tries to convert units to metric ... too drunk.

conclusion: I for one welcome our robotic howitzer overlords.

Re:frumpy poise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39501847)

About 9 meters. 10 feet = 3 meters is a pretty good approximation, much better than 3 feet = 1 meter.

Re:frumpy poise (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501923)

4.98951607 kilograms robot can jump 9.14400 meters into the air.

Re:frumpy poise (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502229)

4.98951607 kilograms robot can jump 9.14400 meters into the air.

I have two words for you: significant figures. Everything else is just noise...metric noise.

Re:frumpy poise (5, Insightful)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503665)

I have two words for you: significant figures. Everything else is just noise...metric noise.

Aghnnn! I'm not at all at ease with having the number of digits written out signify the uncertainty. That's just not very elegant. By that method, you can only express certain ranges (for example "1.45 to 1.55", but neither "1.44 to 1.54" nor "-5 to 17") and it's even dependent on what base you write in! Rather, give uncertainty as a separate number.

Even more sophisticated would be to specify a probability distribution over possible values, but in the above discussion I assume that one wished to express the uncertainty as a range with sharp boundaries.

In case anyone wonders, I do myself practise the "significant digits" method when the social context calls for it and I want to please people (so that they give me money, for example), but whenever I can, I follow my heart and do what's right.

minor issues (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501795)

You can see the camera do take cuts before it jumps most times. Either it's chargin' its laser and they cut for time, or it's got other issues. (it may take awhile to say, charge a compressed spring piston)

Another possible angle is it may only be able to set up for the jump if it's right-side-up, and we never see it flipping itself over, so if it found itself upside-down, it could be in trouble?

But those jumps are quite impressive. I got the impression though that it could only do one height of jump, like when you see it jump off the top of the building. I was expecting a short hop to get it off the edge, but it cranks way back and catapults way up and off. So it seems to have a ways to go, development-wise.

Re:minor issues (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39502013)

Try to sound smart for us again. I think you got it all wrong.

Re:minor issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39502181)

It uses pre-compressed C02, I doubt it has to charge anything to jump.

It has a leg that lifts and aims the body. The leg can lift from either side.

You think the jump to the top of the building was the same height as the jump when it went back down? What are you smoking? It was likely higher than you thought because they had to be sure to clear the edge, a super short hop could have clipped the edge. It's blindingly obvious that the actual jump height was different.

In short, I agree with the comment that got modded down.

Re:minor issues (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502323)

I got the impression though that it could only do one height of jump, like when you see it jump off the top of the building. I was expecting a short hop to get it off the edge, but it cranks way back and catapults way up and off.

Huh? The jump off (@ 36 s) isn't even 1/4 the height of the jump up.

Re:minor issues (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502399)

In addition to what others have pointed out, the part of the article that had the words in it mentioned that it is accurate enough to jump through a window two stories up.

Re:minor issues (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39505675)

Except, it can't jump back out through the window.. Who needs a robot that can't even do self-defenestration?

Re:minor issues (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39505959)

Except, it can't jump back out through the window.. Who needs a robot that can't even do self-defenestration?

Add some explosives to that robot and you have Philip K Dick's idea of a hand grenade....

Re:minor issues (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502629)

I made the assumption that it jumps so high when leaving the rooftop to show how durable it is - that was the maximum falling distance for the playground they'd set up.

Re:minor issues (5, Insightful)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503449)

Just to reiterate, I actually watched when it jumped from the top of the building to see if the height would be the same. The jump at the top of the building arced ~5 feet. Not near as high as the jump to get to the top.

Re:minor issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39505841)

Just to reiterate, I actually watched when it jumped from the top of the building to see if the height would be the same.

The jump at the top of the building arced ~5 feet. Not near as high as the jump to get to the top.

The robot is not stupid.

Re:minor issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39503691)

Such patently silly statements are also revealing of slashdot group modding behaviour (+4 insightful???).

Fair enough, the video is cut up, but:

1. The jump down from the roof is *obviously* much shorter than the jump up to the roof.
2. If the thing had any trouble flipping right-side up, that would be absolutely trivial to fix.
3. Charging a laser? Unless it's trying to blow a hole through a wall, it doesn't need to charge up a laser.
4. I don't even need to read TFA to plainly see this wrongness.

Re:minor issues (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504905)

Another possible angle is it may only be able to set up for the jump if it's right-side-up, and we never see it flipping itself over, so if it found itself upside-down, it could be in trouble?

As with many jumping devices there is no top or bottom; the device is symmetrical top to bottom. If you look closely at the video you will see that the legs are attached between the wheels and chassis and are themselves symmetrical. They can move in either direction so it does not matter which side is up for the device to be able to jump.

Sire it would require camera lenses on both sides of the device but that don't weigh much..

Re:minor issues (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504921)

You can see the camera do take cuts before it jumps most times. Either it's chargin' its laser and they cut for time, or it's got other issues. (it may take awhile to say, charge a compressed spring piston)

Or they are changing from a closeup that shows the elevation and charging to a wide shot to show the jump.

cool from a geeky point of view... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39501819)

but really, what is the point? We already have controlled flight technology, why waste time on uncontrollable flight?

Re:cool from a geeky point of view... (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501965)

but really, what is the point? We already have controlled flight technology, why waste time on uncontrollable flight?

Why do we still drive trucks when we have helicopters? For a given size, much longer range/endurance/payload than a flying vehicle. Think of a ground vehicle/camera system not being blocked by a fence or compound wall instead of full flight. I imagine it is also much quieter.

Having options is good.

Re:cool from a geeky point of view... (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502109)

And cheaper. War is always about money.

Re:cool from a geeky point of view... (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502157)

Having options is good.

True dat. And if we're ever attacked by the armies of King Koopa we'll be damn glad we have this hopping robot!

Re:cool from a geeky point of view... (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502483)

Flight uses a LOT more energy, and wings/rotors can get damaged on landing. Besides the obvious "wait for terrorists to walk by and jump on their backs and stab them in the neck", you can also use this for maybe roof inspection (suddenly no more personal injury), or maybe a cheap way to spread an area with fire retardant, or bring food to people trapped atop buildings by roaming zombies.

dont you listen to robot van halen? (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503939)

"I get up, and nothing gets me down.
  You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest soul around
  And I know, just how it feels.
  You've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real
  Oh can't you see me standing here,
  I've got my back against the record machine, I ain't the worst that you've seen.
  Oh can't you see what I mean ?

  Might as well jump. Jump !
  Might as well jump.
  Go ahead, jump. Jump !
  Go ahead, jump.
"

-- robot Van Halen
Robot Eddie Van Halen
Robot Alex Van Halen
Robot Michael Anthony
Robot David Lee Roth

How much... (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501895)

...and where can i get one?

Re:How much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39503485)

I want one too and will pay $1 more than you.

Black robots can't jump (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39501899)

bitch

I for one... (0)

ihaveamo (989662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39501983)

..DON'T welcome our giant jumping robotic flea overlords. (But I do welcome their even-more-giant robotic overlord dogs they live on)

 

If this was made by a guy in his basement.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39502165)

it would be totally awesome! But since it's made by D*RPA/Sandia/BosDyn it is absolutely terrifying.

Robotic mines (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502391)

Ok, so they're not spider mines... yet. But anything that moves and jumps in the air is just begging to be used as a weapon. Geneva Convention not withstanding.

Go Speed Racer (1)

Walt Sellers (1741378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39502723)

The Mach-5 was the first thing I thought about when I read the title, but this is definitely something else.

The second thing I thought: "Do not give this to my children. I'll be climbing on the roof every day."

Re:Go Speed Racer (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39503415)

The second thing I thought: "Do not give this to my children. I'll be climbing on the roof every day"

I don't know- looks like what they've invented here is a toy that can get itself down from the roof. And land on children's heads like the reincarnation of lawn darts, but that's neither here nor there....

O M F G (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39502947)

Where the hell do I get one of these. Rebound on steroids.

Ummm (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504253)

If the future of /. is flash videos, then I'm going to have to leave.

Not gonna watch video, not going to load flash. I prefer articles and discussions.

Thanx in advance.

Thats not a jump. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39504407)

Just smacks the front wheels on the ground, not really a jump. I remember toys when I was a kid 25+ years ago that did about the same thing found at toysrus. Granted they didnt 30 feet but was same general thing. Not much of a leap in technology. Its basically just a toy not applicable to any useful tasks.

Call me when they make a bi-pedal robot that can actually jump. Till then it will take more than just a remote control car that can fling itself in the air to impress me. The stuff people made on that show battlebots was more impressive than that thing.

Fake! Publicity stunt! (1)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39504465)

They cut the video pretty much before any single jump. Plus, they don't have a good shot of the last flight. The jumps are cool but any of us could do a jumping machine that "just jumps". The hard thing is to make the whole package.

Come on, don't tell me they didn't had time for it. They are a big company and should watch what they release.
This reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXJZVZFRFJc

Maybe Boston Dynamics is just taking a piss out of DARPA.

DUDE! (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39505431)

That thing is Awesome!

Now if we could get that in metric units ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39505799)

because nobody outside US understands how much that is ...

for its domain, that might be the one way to do it (1)

steve.cri (2593117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507351)

Legged locomotion is incredibly difficult to engineer with weakly defined benefits. Use some wheels, and when the obstacle is to big, just jump. I really like that, that might be the one way to do it. That is: for small drones, operating outdoors. However, it may not translate so well to indoors environments, or to larger robots, or load-carrying ones.

Why the camera cuts? (1)

GreyyGuy (91753) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510305)

It looks really cool, but there is a cut between every time the device is posed to jump and it jumps. A camera change at 0:09. A really weird one at 0:18 where the camera doesn't move but light changes so you know there was a cut. The jump at 0:35 doesn't look like it has a cut but it is a smaller jump too. The next jump has one at 0:51. So 4 jumps with three cuts between the preparing to jump and the jump. Not saying it is a fake, but it has many attributes that a faked video would have.

In other news... (1)

0x537461746943 (781157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511361)

Afghanistan walls have been increase to 31 feet.

Couple questions (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about 2 years ago | (#39511947)

The spindly protrusions off of the wheels, are those somehow helping to stabilize the flight trajectory after launching? How come they don't cover the plastic wheels with some kind of rubber tread to increase traction and decrease the scratching/scrambling noise the plastic makes. I would imagine a bit of stealth would be necessary for the environments this will be used in. Or would that not actually help in the dirt/sand?

That said, launching off of a roof and landing on concrete and still working perfectly afterward... that's some solid engineering. Most things would have shattered into about a million pieces after that.

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