March, 2008 | » 2008 » March

I saw a new video of the Big Dog project released by Boston Dynamics, and I have to say, it just blew me away.

Big Dog is a quadruped with hydraulic actuators pressurized by an onboard gasoline engine. It is the size of a large dog and weighs about 240 pounds, and it can carry a 120-pound load.

The real work here and bang-for-the-buck is the controls work done to have the robot dynamically maintain it’s balance on the four legs while walking on and over all kinds of varying terrain. This control system comes from Marc Raibert (who is running the project) and it looks like he’s made a big step forward from his previous work at the MIT leg lab that he started in the 80s.

I actually put together a proposal for DARPA’s Biodynotics program a few years ago with Brett Kennedy that came in 2nd behind Marc’s team, and from what I’ve seen today I see why. I think this work truly shows the future of mobility in changing terrain for mobile robotics applications for the next decade and beyond.