Thursday, August 7, 2008
This is something out of Steven Speilberg's futuristic sci-fi movie. Let me introduce you to the Big Dog. It is the alpha male of Boston Dynamic's futuristic breed of robots. Now let me tell you something about Boston dynamics. It is an engineering company that specializes in robotics and human simulation. The company began as a spinoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where Marc Raibert and his colleagues first developed robots that run and maneuver like animals. Their groundbreaking work inspired the launch of Boston Dynamics in 1992.
The Big Dog is an amazing robot built by Boston dynamics. It can walk, run, climb rough terrains and can incredibly balance itself if you hit, kick or apply any kind of force to it. Just have a look at the video link below. You can imagine the amount of brainwork that has gone into building it. The complicated design which mimics the movement of a dog. Great inventors have always looked at nature to create something simply awesome like the Big Dog. Take for example the aeroplane which uses the same mechanism to fly as the birds do. The feathers are replaced by aelerons to control the speed and direction. Well now the Big Dog is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog's legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight.
BigDog has an on-board computer that controls locomotion, servos the legs and handles a wide variety of sensors. BigDog’s control system manages the dynamics of its behavior to keep it balanced, steer, navigate, and regulate energetics as conditions vary. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a laser gyroscope, and a stereo vision system. Other sensors focus on the internal state of BigDog, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine temperature, rpm, battery charge and others.
In separate trials, BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, and carries a 340 lb load. Boston Dynamics has three other robot which are equally impressive. They are Rise, Rhex and the Little Dog. To know more about the robots and watch their videos click here.