The military-industrial complex continues to pour money into robots that can serve the battlefield and beyond. Here are some of the current favorites.
- ATLAS humanoid robot, which just received a new update.
- Sand Flea jumping robot
- Robobee – pollinator/surveillance
- Cryo – robot jellyfish to patrol the oceans
- Big Dog – Heavy lifting, like throwing cinderblocks, and transport
- Cheetah – designed to chase human prey (and now has a cub)
Following the above developments, Boston Dynamics has just released a video of its latest creation that is now running free. Later models are expected to reach speeds of 50 mph.
WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat’s best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA’s M3 program.
That “funding from DARPA” should be read as “funding from the American taxpayer.” Among the annual budget of around $3 billion, here is our money in action:
The Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program was announced in 2011. DARPA states the goals as follows:
The Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program is striving to create and demonstrate significant scientific and engineering advances in robotics that will:
Create a significantly improved scientific framework for the rapid design and fabrication of robot systems and greatly enhance robot mobility and manipulation in natural environments.
Significantly improve robot capabilities through fundamentally new approaches to the engineering of better design tools, fabrication methods, and control algorithms. The M3 program covers scientific advancement across four tracks: design tools, fabrication methodologies, control methods, and technology demonstration prototypes. (source)
While other areas of the government have shut down amid a supposed economic crisis, there seems to be no shortage of funding available to war profiteers defense contractors.