Friday, July 30, 2010

Advanced Robotics

July 2010. The robot untethered distance record has been broken again. Cornell University’s Ranger robot has taken the record by traveling 14.3 miles unassisted by any wires or tethers to hold it upright. The competition in the world of robots is fierce, and the results are quite impressive.

Now, this being the internet, as soon as word breaks out that robots have become better, faster, stronger, smarter, or in any way better than they used to be; tons of site start writing articles about how robots are going to take over the world. Thing is, robots are ridiculous and often rather dumb.

Case in point, take a look at a video of the record breaker the last time it broke the record:

A box with spindly long cartoon bug legs.

It can break walking records, sure, but that’s all it can do. Most robots that exist are only really good at a few select things. They can walk,


Solve Rubik’s cubes,

Show emotions,

But never all at once.

It would take a combination of all these traits on order to become truly terrifying.

The Ranger robot’s competition, Big Dog from Boston Dynamics, is supposed to have a combination of these traits. It previously took the title of distance walking from Ranger and is also capable of balancing itself over any kind of terrain.

Yet look, not terrifying:

Oh wait, that was Little Dog. Boston Dynamic’s smaller model of the robot. THIS is Big Dog:


Ok. That’s pretty creepy. Did you see it? It moves like it’s ALIVE, even on ice! You can kick the monster, but you can’t stop it. It just keeps moving, heading towards some unknown goal while making a terrible grinding noise that came out of someone’s nightmares.

There’s even been talk of Big Dog having military applications. Mostly just to carry things around though, so no matter how creepy it might become at least we don’t have to worry about it being used as any kind of weapon. Besides, how would someone weaponize an unstoppable charging machine?

Oh. That’s how.

Well, even if the robots can become more powerful, we still have nothing to worry about…

…because they’re still dumb.