A YouTube video released by Boston Dynamics is making some waves today. They decided to unleash "Wildcat" for the public to see.
Many are already familiar with the slow and lumbering "BigDog" that has been in development for the last few years. We've seen it take steps to avoid obstacles and wander around with surprisingly lifelike motion. We've even seen it recover from falls and tumbles, slowly lifting itself back up and trudging onward. However, we were always able to relax a little bit, knowing that at least we could outrun this four-legged beast, should the need arise.
When Boston Dynamics showed videos of its "Cheetah" quadruped system that is patterned after the feline that shares its name, we were able to relax a little bit knowing that, even though it could theoretically move faster than any living human being, it was confined to the treadmill due to its system of hydraulic tethers.
Wildcat offers no such respite. As you can see in the video, this bounding 'bot could easily catch all but the fastest of us mere mortals. Information is very sparse right now, since Boston Dynamics hasn't provided its website with any details yet on its latest creation. The only information we have so far is from this video description:
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. For more information about WildCat visit our website at www.BostonDynamics.com.
Click this image to see a selection of still shots from the video.
@AZ, this is one of those instances where it turns out that fiction had a fairly good guess at future reality. But I hope the rest of that plot remains in the realm of fiction. I could do very well to never need to deal with time-traveling robots of any kind.
Thanks for the clarification. Nevertheless, intelligent robots like the Wildcat do evoke concerns about maintaining control -- security concerns -- that are suggestive of a Terminator-like "machines out of control."
AZ, I was not referencing the terminator movies at all, just the fact that a lot of people simply are not aware of the secondary results of things that may seem like a good idea until they are instituted. Then the additional and secondary effects start happening and suddenly it is a lot like speeding up and passing everybody else on the road, then realizing that they were slowing a bit for a sharp turn. Of course there could be some benefits to some form of connection, but not through the internet, and not using internet protocols. In some cases it is much better to not have everybody on the same bus. In addition there is no benefit to have such systems accessible to the internet, except for some short term convenience. And just like most things done exclusively for short term convenience it would invite a future disaster. That is why you lock your doors.
Indeed, providing such powerful machines with connectivity is an invitation for trouble, but at the same time, it seems unthinkable that they would not be able to network either with each other or at least with their human controllers.
"Unfortunately we do have a buch of folks who are unable and unwilling to admit that providing computer controlled stuff with both intellect and self awareness could possibly have any potentially bad results."
That almost sounds like a reference to the Terminator movies, and indeed some of these advanced robots make it seem that not everything in those movies was so far-fetched. We don't need to extend our imaginations all the way to humanoid cyborgs with silicon brains comparable to a human brain -- machines such as successors to the Wildcat, outfitted with weapons and sophisticated AI would be cause enough to have real concerns about network security and hacker-proofing.
@WKetel, that's the usual argument between security and connectivity. Ultimately connectivity wins, otherwise we would have never had the internet :-)
When I said internet, I did not necessarily mean good old plain TCP/IP. It's got to be secure of course e.g. through bespoke protocols, encryption etc. The functional and cost gains of higher connectivity outweigh the security fears IMO.
KB3001, Making a robotic anything internet connected is an invitation for hackers to do damage. So really, think about it: an internet connected robot suddenly under the control of somebody who intends to do damage. That is a just plain BAD IDEA. Even much worse with a fast moving high powered robotic animal.
Unfortunately we do have a buch of folks who are unable and unwilling to admit that providing computer controlled stuff with both intellect and self awareness could possibly have any potentially bad results. Just look at the windows operating system to see some of the bad results that come from a program having even a small amount of self awareness.
You are certainly correct, at least it seems that way, that making robots tough should be easier than making them really smart. But sometimes both are needed, either at different times or sometimes all at the same time. Just like people, they need to be able to handle exceptions, both physical and those requiring a rapid analysis of data.
Interesting - it alll depends if there are testing ruggedness at this phase. My understanding is that the focus is the brain power of these robots which can be examined from the soccer element. How rugged the robots are may not be that useful. You can make robots tough, that could seem easier, compared to making them intelligient.