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257 comments

Not something I want chasing after me (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45050759)

Kinda reminds me of my ex, actually. Fast, noisy, high maintenance.

Re:Not something I want chasing after me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050897)

laughtrack.wav

Re:Not something I want chasing after me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051057)

guffaw.flac

Re:Not something I want chasing after me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051313)

Reminds me of Wildcat BBS. Even that one was fast, noisy and high maintenance.

Only one purpose (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050771)

We already have things that do this very well, that are faster, much more intelligent, quieter, less clumsy on their feet, and require far less energy to run for much longer periods of time - horses.

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the whole "this is cool" aspect. But the only conceivable use for this project is as a drone weapons platform, presumably becoming autonomous as technology advances.

So whenever I read about things like this, my initial reaction is "what are they thinking?" followed by abject disgust for anyone involved in the project.

Re:Only one purpose (4, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 6 months ago | (#45050811)

You can't order a horse to carry gear to specified coordinates unattended. Horses don't climb rough terrain particularly well either.

Re:Only one purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050843)

Whereas this thing trips over itself on a flat surface and has a step height of a few inches, making it far better for rough terrain.

Re:Only one purpose (1)

stjobe (78285) | about 6 months ago | (#45050885)

Whereas this thing trips over itself on a flat surface and has a step height of a few inches, making it far better for rough terrain.

If we're talking about the WildCat video, it looked like the front right leg joint broke when it fell, not that it tripped. If that's the case, it's just an engineering problem to reinforce that joint.

Re:Only one purpose (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051707)

You mean like you can do with a helicopter?

Re:Only one purpose (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 6 months ago | (#45051827)

Helicopters aren't easy to hide. That's why they have a habit of getting shot down a lot, particularly when they operate in the daytime. The purpose the Boston Dynamics quadrapeds are being developed for is to provide additional load carrying for troops operating in difficult terrain. Otherwise you'd just use wheeled vehicles (although they also sacrifice stealthiness by kicking up dust).

Re:Only one purpose (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 6 months ago | (#45051715)

Maybe we should invest in researching mind-control helmets for donkeys, then.

Okay, that was a joke, but perhaps an automated mechanical rider (that operated the reins and stirrups) would almost be practical...

Re:Only one purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050913)

Horses take 2 years to mature - that means a lot of horses in the growing/training pipeline vs however many is used. It also means you have to wait 2 years for any "update patches" in the training. Whereas with this, a few engineers could assemble in a few days, and upload control software in seconds.

Imagine someone decades ago worrying about radar fire control and how it disgusting it is that a crew of dozens would be able to take out an entire fleet. Military always gets the most advanced stuff first, if they didn't they wouldn't be doing their jobs.

early cars, search & rescue, unexploded ordina (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 6 months ago | (#45051157)

Horses were better than early cars. So they shouldn't have developed cars?

I could see advanced legged robots being useful in search & rescue in rough terrain, unexploded ordinance disposal (think IEDs), and several other applications. I'd like to take some of this company's robots and engineers out to our training area, Disaster City.

Re:Only one purpose (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 6 months ago | (#45051329)

Horses actually require a lot of support in terms of food compared to mechanized units.

Re:Only one purpose (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45051433)

This. Horses are a real PITA in the field. Fuel is bulky, they're heavy. Hard to drop out of planes (successfully anyway). They don't always do what you want them to do (Whoa Nelly!). They resent being shot at or blown up.

Of course, these aren't all that practical yet. It's basically electronic animal 101. But BD has some impressively cool tech. Their big problem is the energy source. Internal combustion engines are just so 20th century.

Re:Only one purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051353)

A suitable factory can build many of these a day. You can't build and train horses that fast.

But you can't build a factory and the other required infra that fast either. Male and female horses and suitable pasture is all the factory that is needed.

The "spears" are sharper nowadays but there's a lot more behind each "spear".

Re:Only one purpose (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051745)

You can build and train horses pretty fast. Horses are quite happy to fuck each other, so if you have enough pregnant mares, after a couple years lead time you will have horses coming out of your ass. Plus the "trainers" don't need a highly specialized skillset. People have been riding and using horses for thousands of years. It's really not that complicated.

Re:Only one purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051447)

can't strap a mini-gun on a horse and have it run down enemies while firing at them, ever ,ever, ever

I wager that these things will have that capability in 5 years if they do not now

Re:Only one purpose (2)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 6 months ago | (#45051915)

So whenever I read about things like this, my initial reaction is "what are they thinking?" followed by abject disgust for anyone involved in the project.

WTF? Turn in your (wo)man card. Like an overpowered sports car or a gun that shoots through schools, the outrageously excessive badassery of this thing has an appeal all its own.

For every smoking clanking roaring polluting autonomous quadruped you refuse to build, I'm going to build two.

Government waste (1, Interesting)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | about 6 months ago | (#45050781)

Why not just use a horse? Costs less, more reliable, powered by renewable resources ... the horse.

Re:Government waste (4, Funny)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about 6 months ago | (#45050807)

"That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."

Horse? Not even close.

Re:Government waste (1)

blackiner (2787381) | about 6 months ago | (#45050881)

Yeah I don't know why so many people seem confused about the purpose of this thing. It is a prototype killing platform. Replace the gas engine with a small nuclear reactor, strap on a machine gun with automated targeting software, and you have a quick manueverable discreet death machine that obeys any order it recieves. And if it falls into the wrong hands, you say? What of the nuclear material then? That's the bueaty of it, it doubles as a dirty bomb.

Re:Government waste (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 months ago | (#45051033)

there is no nuclear reactor design that could power that thing like a gas engine can.

If there was we could have nuclear powered electric cars.

I really wish people could understand that. the small nuclear reactors could power a laptop or two for 30 years but could never produce enough electricity fast enough to run a clothes dryer for one run.

Second,

people see horse or mule and can't conceive of a horse or mule getting scared of bullets flying by and or getting shot. using a horse to carry your gear only works until the horse gets shot. then the horse runs away with your gear.

Re:Government waste (5, Insightful)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about 6 months ago | (#45051261)

I really wish people could understand that. the small nuclear reactors could power a laptop or two for 30 years but could never produce enough electricity fast enough to run a clothes dryer for one run.

You know, people would be more likely to understand that if we could stop this business of calling RTGs "reactors". The concept of a "reactor" (whether chemical, biological, or nuclear) is usually that it provides some form of support for a reaction to take place which otherwise would not take place, or would only take place in a different, less useful/safe/something way.

Radioactive decay is not in any meaningful sense a "reaction", and would be happening to the Pu (or other "fuel", if you're using something different) whether or not it's in the RTG, at essentially the same rate, generating the same amount of heat. The only thing the RTG does is feed the decay heat through a heat engine (typically a Seebeck device, but there's some work using a Stirling engine), to extract some work from the heat flow -- no reaction, so it's no reactor.

Ordinarily, I'd call such a distinction as this useless pedantry, and not engage in it, but you're correct that there's a problem with people being ignorant about RTGs and thinking they have capabilities they don't -- and since I'm convinced the general habit of calling RTGs "nuclear reactors" contributes to this, I think it's a distinction worth making.

Re:Government waste (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 6 months ago | (#45051783)

So then the question becomes, could an actual fission reactor be designed small and powerful enough to power a car (or horse) -like vehicle?

Re:Government waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051687)

I really wish people could understand that. the small nuclear reactors could power a laptop or two for 30 years but could never produce enough electricity fast enough to run a clothes dryer for one run.

Since one only runs a clothes dryer at most once a day, you could use the RTG to fill a battery :) and use that to run the dryer.

Maybe true for one, but not for a family (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051841)

Maybe true for one, but not for a family.

Oops, forgot this was Slashdot. Few families here.

Does running the dryer once a day keep you warm in that basement?

Re:Government waste (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051793)

a small nuclear reactor

Get off the crack. There is no such thing as a "small nuclear reactor". Nuclear isotope battery maybe - if you guys still had the plutonium for them (lol!), but nuclear reactors are not "small", unless you don't shield them at all and want this thing to kill hostiles and friendlies through radiation sickness. They can't even fit nuclear reactors on an aircraft, let alone something like this.

Re:Government waste (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about 6 months ago | (#45050915)

"That horse is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you give it a lump of sugar."

Re:Government waste (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 6 months ago | (#45051113)

I dunno. My horse is pretty amazing...

Re:Government waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051461)

Yeah, that's what your drunk brother-in-law keeps saying.

The cows seem to like him though.

Re:Government waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050817)

Because billions of years of evolving something that is incredibly good at what it does isn't deemed "high tech" enough compared to a couple of bits of coarsely thrown together bits of clumsy metal and plastic. Or to take the alternative view, perhaps the one that God designed wasn't good enough for them?

Re:Government waste (4, Interesting)

alexgieg (948359) | about 6 months ago | (#45051319)

Because billions of years of evolving something that is incredibly good at what it does isn't deemed "high tech" enough

Evolution is slow. Evolution goes by trial and error rather than absolutely optimized engineering design and QA, and doesn't have any kind of recursive ability so as to improve its own methods. Sure, give it billions of years and the absolute minimum optimization capability and it'll make something that works pretty well, up to and including the human brain, but that's it. Now, give those human brains a solvable challenge and they'll work it out in a matter of centuries, if not decades, years or even just months.

So, sure, right now horses are better, after all nature got a few hundred millions years advantage before allowing us to start running, but we're catching up, and fast, very, very fast. In a few decades no living thing other than human beings will have any advantage left over our technologically-developed alternatives. And then it'll come the time for technology to outgrow even that last remaining bastion of biological-over-technological superiority too.

Re:Government waste (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051815)

Philosophically speaking, evolution doesn't even have to produce something "good" at what it's supposed to do. So long as it's "better than the other species" to guarantee a survival advantage in a particular role, then it's good enough. The metric for evolution is not excellence but survival. I still think this device is a silly waste of money though. There is not one thing it can do that can't be done better by existing technology, it's a mediocre re-invention of the wheel.

Re:Government waste (2)

rworne (538610) | about 6 months ago | (#45051753)

Lets look at it this way:

Horses take a long time to mature. These things take a week or two to assemble (assuming they go through QA procedures, environmental, shock & vibe, etc.)
Horses can go for couple days or more on food. This thing only a couple of hours.
Horses spook easily and less easily with training. These will never spook.
Horses can follow simple commands. This can follow complex commands,

Both need fuel and water. Horses need lots of support by bringing their food/water to the battle field. But a lot of us are forgetting another project: EATR [wikipedia.org]. With the addition of this tech and a gun, this new robot can run around, hunt, kill, and devour victims as a fuel source.

Re:Government waste (2)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | about 6 months ago | (#45050819)

Yes, and journeys in early motorised carriages could have been done quicker and cheaper using horses.
Not very good at the old forward-thinking thing, are you ;)

Re:Government waste (1)

niw3 (1029008) | about 6 months ago | (#45050867)

Why not just use a horse? Costs less, more reliable, powered by renewable resources ... the horse.

Because you cannot install a radio & a gps to a horse, and send it to battle field without a human rider.

Re:Government waste (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45051469)

Actually, that would be pretty easy. Some paddles on the side to push on just below the withers and some servos attached to the bridle. Some cameras to figure out where you're going. The software could be relatively unsophisticated as the horse has very advanced terrain following firmware already installed.

Re:Government waste (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#45051735)

Interesting way of looking at it. How hard would it be to train a horse, or even a dog to obey a computer that tells it what to do. A dog might work better depending on the size of the payload. Depending on the task at hand, you might even want to use a really dumb animal. Have the computer dangle some food in front of it's face, and just have the animal follow the food.

Re:Government waste (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051849)

You mean like you can with a helicopter? Oh wait - you planning to fight wars without air supremacy? Oh dear oh dear...

Re:Government waste (0, Flamebait)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 6 months ago | (#45050941)

Oohhhhhhhh...a HORSE! Fuck, why didn't we think of that! Thank god you're here with your ingenius insights. Now all we have to do is to get it eat nothing for long periods of time in the desert while carrying heavy loads 24/7 in a combat environment. Easy!

Re:Government waste (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 6 months ago | (#45050977)

This is being funded by DARPA.
In the military, there is a place for everything.
Sometimes you want a horse, sometimes a mule,
and sometimes a robot that can be air dropped alongside troops and other equipment.

Have you ever thought about the logistics of getting a large, live animal to a staging point in the middle of [shitty and hostile territory]?

Re:Government waste (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051863)

If that's the way you plan to fight wars, you are doing it wrong. Which incidentally, is why you keep losing wars.

Re:Government waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051043)

Horses take time to mature and train. Robots can be assembled in hours.
Horses have to be put down if they injure themselves. Robots can carry extra legs, eyes, brains, etc. for in-field repair.
Horses leave poop trails. Robots are noisy/fumy now, but advanced batteries 10 years from now won't be.
Specs ops team compromised? Oh crap, blow up the horse!

Re:Government waste (2)

poity (465672) | about 6 months ago | (#45051063)

Robots probably cost a lot less in the long run. Think of the industrial horse farms that would be needed to supply the military. A small assembly line could crank out thousands of these a month.

Re:Government waste (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 months ago | (#45051279)

Plus upkeep. The mechanical horse only needs to be fed when you're using it, and you can store it in a crate no bigger than itself.

Re:Government waste (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#45051247)

Surprisingly, horses are not very good at running long distances. In fact, people can run long distances faster than horses. The switchover point in that contest is around the length of a marathon [discovermagazine.com]. This robot can run a sub-4-minute-mile, but more importantly, there is every reason to think it could be made to sustain that pace all day.

Re:Government waste (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#45051839)

That's pretty much false. At the President's Cup, in Abu Dhabi [stackexchange.com], the record is 160 km in 6 hours, 21 minutes. Average speed, 25 km/h. That's faster than world record marathon runners go. It's in 6 stages, each longer than a marathon itself, but all in a single day. I don't think you'll ever see a human run 160 km in a single day, averaging 25 km/h while moving.

Re:Government waste (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051779)

Because no one will give you $500 billion dollars if you tell them you want to move stuff around with horses!

Sort of strings attached (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050783)

In that it is very loud.
I know that it is for in use in a battlefield or emergency situation, but still.

Ah, the day when battery tech catches up to things like oils, and even surpasses it. It will be glorious indeed.

All these things always remind me of Metal Gear Solid.
How long before those massive bipedal robots?
There is already this one on the other side of that research, DARPA made this wonderful thing [youtube.com] the other year.

Re:Sort of strings attached (1)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#45051211)

Loud? It's an engineering prototype. The idea is to get it running first, then worry about the non-essential stuff like mufflers, armor, weapons, storage racks, etc.

bound by natural selection... (2)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 6 months ago | (#45050795)

great to recreate a horse ... but engineering is NOT bound by natural selection ... why not innovate? perhaps it's a fundamental issue with how engineers think?

Re:bound by natural selection... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45050907)

great to recreate a horse ... but engineering is NOT bound by natural selection ... why not innovate? perhaps it's a fundamental issue with how engineers think?

Wow; That's a great idea. How about, instead of having these legs moving back and forward, we improve it and have something which moves continually. We could have them in pairs attached at one point by a metal bar (perhaps called a "Rose" after the member of Guns and Roses who keeps going back to the same point in his life). These things would then go round and round repeatedly. Provided the surface was flat you could probably move much faster than on legs. I am surprised none of the robot companies ever thought of that before. I guess we should go out and get a patent for it immediately. I think we must name it the "iRoundiTator".

N.B. This post is the proprietary and confidential information of Anonymous Coward (inc). If you receive it by accident then you are fully bound by the requirements for commercial confidentiality until the relevant patent applications have been made. This posting does not count as publication.

Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (5, Insightful)

dryriver (1010635) | about 6 months ago | (#45050889)

...really smart people creating things - "war machines" to be blunt - that will wind up killing someone on some battlefield somewhere (probably the Middle East and North Africa). If BD were creating robotic devices for peaceful purposes - a "dog" for the blind, a robot that can do some old lady's shopping for her - then I would be applauding the effort/brilliance on display here. But building clever war machines? Sorry, but this isn't something intelligent, conscientious people would even dream of working on. So its "boo combat robots" for Boston Dynamics from me, rather than "yay cool robots"... My 2 Cents. Feel free to disagree...

Re: Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051037)

The military is where the money is. The more you can extract doing research, the better

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 months ago | (#45051059)

the military will never be defunded. even now during a government shutdown the military can still force certain areas to keep development going.

Second you have to teach the dog to walk before you can teach it how to watch for cars.

Normal animals learn to walk on day one of their life. robotic ones are dumber than that. Some one needs to teach it to walk in public without a tether. Even asmiov that walking honda robot, can only do preprogramed areas.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#45051407)

Normal animals learn to walk on day one of their life. robotic ones are dumber than that.

And humans are dumbest of all: it takes a human about 1.5 years to learn to walk decently.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45051899)

That's not because humans are stupid. It's actually because we're smart. Our nervous systems are born with very little myelin which leads to very erratic nervous conduction - but allows for radical re-wiring of said nervous system in the first few years of life. After a year or so, myelin starts to be produced and the human nervous system "sets", conduction velocities improve, and the human becomes more co-ordinated. And a lot smarter than all the other critters around him. Myelination stops when you're about 20.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051097)

Firstly, this in not a combat robot with guns on it. It's a utilty robot that carries stuff. The only thing military about it, is that the military is buying it, to carry stuff.

Secondly, the military is a legitimate thing. There should be a military. Have you learned nothing from the Kellogg-Briand Pact?

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051115)

Feels pretty nice to be a hippy when disparity of force keeps world wars from starting and the general public out of conscription.

Re: Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051235)

[quote] ...really smart people creating things - "war machines" to be blunt - that will wind up killing someone on some battlefield somewhere (probably the Middle East and North Africa). If BD were creating robotic devices for peaceful purposes - a "dog" for the blind, a robot that can do some old lady's shopping for her - then I would be applauding the effort/brilliance on display here. But building clever war machines?
[quote]

They build war machines for the same reason most technically advanced research begins with defense spending: it pays the bills.

Historically, defense related research eventually brings civilian benefits. If you want your peaceful robots sooner, then you'll have to find the funding.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (4, Insightful)

roeguard (1113267) | about 6 months ago | (#45051239)

Sadly, a lot of our technological advances originate (or are refined to the point of being actually functional) from military projects such as this. We're all communicating over one of them [wikipedia.org] right now.

Less Personal Risk == Less Hostile Action (2)

tomxor (2379126) | about 6 months ago | (#45051351)

I would argue that developing forms of robotics for the battlefield (autonomous or not) has a huge potential to reduce hostility. Decision making on the battlefield in person has to take into consideration enemies, civilians and friendlies, and a naturally increased hostility is present due to the personal risk involved. With robots you can forget about the personal risk forget about friendlies and concentrate on separating civilians from hostiles, it makes combat one dimension simpler.

Also robots can be sent into situations that would be suicidal, plain immoral, or not physically possible for human soldiers... go down this street with enemies hiding amongst civilians and don't shoot until you get really close because your more likely to kill a civilian, that's not really a situation you can send a human into successfully without ether huge risk to civilians or a huge risk to friendlies.

It's a sharp tool that can be used far more accurately than a blunt one such as a bomb. Something that is likely to stop stupid military decisions like preemptive strikes with massive civilian casualties, because there is another option.

I'm not saying i trust the hands of whoever these tools end up in, but the potential for good is as great as the potential for bad as with most technology.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#45051357)

The military is like porn in that respect. There's a lot of money to be made in creating new tech that serves either one. And once that tech is somewhat matured, it can then start finding new uses that weave it into everyday life.

To reverse the situation, why didn't people build the first automated robots as guide "dogs" for the blind? Or go back into history and ask yourself why were phonograph players marketed to everyone for playing music first, and not as 19th Century audio-books for the blind? Because Thomas Edison wanted to make a lot of money, and selling a handful of record players to some blind people weren't going to pay his bills. Selling a handful of guide-dog robots won't pay the staff at Boston Dynamics, either.

People who create things want to make money from what they do. That means they either try to sell their things to the people who have the most money, or they sell their things to a really broad group of customers. At this time there doesn't seem to be a broad domestic market for robotic wildcats, nor for a lot of four-legged-self-balancing-motorized porn robots. That kind of leaves the military as their go-to source of large piles of cash.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

poet (8021) | about 6 months ago | (#45051541)

That will come. Military technologies generally make it down to the consumer but only the military can afford to pay for the R&D into such things. Once it is produced, used and does all its killing, it will make it down to the consumer for exactly what you say.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

Tweezak (871255) | about 6 months ago | (#45051571)

Science fiction...

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 6 months ago | (#45051625)

That's just fiction. The biggest market for robots is war. If you want to make money making robots, just make all sorts of semi-autonomous killing machines. Look at the current Darpa Grand challenge. I don't read it as ,"Break through a wall and rescue someone in a fire and drive them to a hospital." but instead,"Break down a wall, abduct a target and bring him in to be interrogated."

What remains to be seen if it is fiction or not is: Because the robot is loyal to whomever sets it up, one rogue billionaire can buy up a robot army and conquer his choice of any number of banana republics that he wants. There are a lot of rich people who bribe politicians to get countries around the world to be more acceptable to them. So a single man to conquer a nation wouldn't be unheard of. In fact no one might even know who is the man who conquered their country.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 6 months ago | (#45051607)

yet I want a robot dog that also doubles as a robot guard. Anyone breaking and Entering gets fed to the gerbils that power the damn thing then. No more Cleanup on Isle 3

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051749)

No one gives a shit what garbage like you has to say.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 6 months ago | (#45051785)

...really smart people creating things - "war machines" to be blunt - [...]... My 2 Cents. Feel free to disagree...

"Fun fact; before he built rockets for the Nazis, the idealistic Werner von Braun dreamed of space travel, he star gazed. Do you know what he said when the first V2 hit London? 'The rocket performed perfectly, it just landed on the wrong planet.' See we all begin wide-eyed, pure science. And then the ego steps in, the obsession. And you look up, you're a long way from shore."
-- Maya Hansen, Iron Man 3

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#45051859)

If there were more money for hugging bunnies, you'd be 100% correct. As it is, it's only a commentary on our society, and you're somewhere less than 100% correct, though certainly not all wrong. Someday down the line, we'll get robot rescue dogs. Right now, we're going to get robot murder dogs.

Re:Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 months ago | (#45051897)

I do disagree.

I find your moralism absurd and completely naive, albeit disappointingly common in the Western world.

First, it's ENTIRELY too easy - from your presumably perfectly safe environment - too pooh-pooh disparagingly the necessity of military technology. How do you think we GOT to a situation in which (for most of us in the first world anyway) most of us can assume correctly that our entire lives will be spent peacefully in blissful ignorance of the consequences of war across our homes, our families, and our lives? How do you think we got to this point? The planet has never lacked strongmen who would cheerfully take what they want and impose their will on others. The only thing that's stopped such people (eventually) is force. Much of sub-Saharan Africa is a basket case today because the decent people there lack the ability to remove (and keep out) the thugs and strongmen that have fought their own way to the top.

In that sense, your particularist view is actually borderline immoral.

Secondly, you seem to ignore the overwhelming benefits that we have gained from technologies developed originally for military purposes: GPS, satellite communication, rocketry itself, not to mention the general advances in medicine, materials, etc that have all stemmed from military funding and need.

Finally, to suggest that conscientious people "wouldn't work on such things" is again, the sort of view that could only come from a surreal worldview formed in a sort of coddled, safe cocoon. Do you think that refusing to work on such machines is going to somehow make war "go away"? I wonder if the the next time a unit needs 150kg of food and water brought through enemy fields of fire (thus needing at least a half dozen men or trips) they would appreciate the subtlety of your philosophical views: "Gee, I'm glad I get to run through gunfire a half dozen times because someone was 'too conscientious' to work on a robot to do this for me!"

You invited disagreement, so here it is: I find your "war machine bad" views absurdly precious, simplistic, and rather childish.

Chainsaw with legs (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 months ago | (#45050965)

Looks scary -- but at least you'd hear it coming.

Re:Chainsaw with legs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051161)

(Yelling): Huh? What's coming? I can't hear you over the... OUMPH! AUGH! Why didn't you warn me?!?

Re:Chainsaw with legs (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 6 months ago | (#45051421)

I've seen that exact scene in several movies and tv shows. Apparently there are people that dumb out there. They're called "scriptwriters".

Mechanical Hound (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051015)

Obey the government or they'll set one of these on you.

Re:Mechanical Hound (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 6 months ago | (#45051233)

Obey the government or they'll set one of these on you.

Or at least use it to guard against all those pesky WWII vets spoiling Obama's meme.

No worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051087)

this is definitely not something I want chasing after me.

Don't worry - once it's out to get you, they'll strap an automatic rifle onto it's back, so you have time to run (much). Those robots must be expensive, they can't afford to risk breaking them in a collision with their target.

It doesn't look natural (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051137)

Every time I look at their devices it strikes me that they are getting closer to looking like a real animal, but aren't there yet.

Also, why do the knees face the same direction unlike every other quadruped (horse) for example?

Re:It doesn't look natural (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 6 months ago | (#45051333)

Because what you think of as a "horse knee" isn't a horse's knee.

Google for an image of a horse skeleton, and compare its bones to your own. In another tab, google image for a horse. Look at where the joint between the humerus and radius bones is at (in humans that is the elbow), and what that point actually looks like on the horse. Do the same for the joint between the femur and tibia (a human knee).

Basically, what you think of as 'knees' in quadrupeds are equivalent to our wrists and ankles. What you consider their 'lower legs' is equivalent to our hands and feet. And what you consider to be their 'feet' is equivalent to our fingers and toes, and even our finger- and toenails for the hoofed animals.

With all that said, yes it does look like an animal with no head or tail is running ass-first.

Re:It doesn't look natural (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#45051443)

The knees all face forward, which is the same as most animals I know of. The knees on a horse all face forward too. Here's an image:
http://www.horses-healthy-balance.com/1_31_3_patella-problems-in-horses-and-dogs.html [horses-hea...alance.com]

Same goes for cats. You're probably confusing the horse's ankle/heel with its knee. On animals like horses and cats, there is no "heel" like on a human; that part on the rear leg is raised far off the ground, and only their toes (or toe, in the case of a horse) actually rest on the ground.

Re:It doesn't look natural (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051521)

probably so that it could move in either direction just as well (or poorly) like a push-me-pull-you without the heads

It also does not seem to bother with articulated feet or ankles for that matter, maybe there are some advantages to allowing natural selection to do a billion years of prototyping for you and then just keeping the parts that work and doing a quick development cycle on improvements

Gizmag had this two days ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051401)

Is that where Slashdot gets all it's 'news' from?

Not just war machines (1)

mutherhacker (638199) | about 6 months ago | (#45051577)

I'm surprised by people who see this and immediately think terminators and war machines. Why is it that when I saw this I thought "land transport". I imagine one of those things carrying me from home to work every day, assuming I'm sitting in an actuated capsule that compensates for the galloping. Until some issues are figured out, electric cars and high-speed rail will do the trick, but I think this is the future for land transport. Unlike electric cars these babies can JUMP at crossings thus eliminating the need to slow down or stop.

More like a WildSheep (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#45051685)

It is designed closer to a Sheep and even runs like sheep do. I really would like to see them make one like a cat that can run, crouch and leap like a cat can. then we will have something that is fearsome.

Imagine that thing leaping a 60 foot ditch at you.

Easliy Defeated Toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45051769)

People are scared of this mechanical attempt at an animal?

Why, it's easily defeated if it were to become an operational weapons system.

Let me count the ways:

Pit trap

Noose/snare trap

Dead fall trap

Net trap

Poles run between the "legs"

Easy, because it has limited mobility in most directions except forward and backward.

Nothing to fear here, move along to the next false fear.

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