BigDog was so-named after he was born and bred at Boston Dynamics Inc. – but once he moves in with me, I’m going to rename him. “BigDog” is such a colorless moniker for such a noble creature. It deserves the dignity of a name like Rin Tin Tin, or Hooch the Headless Hound.
BigDog doesn’t tinkle, poop, bark, growl, have girlfriends, or dysentery, or worms, or fleas, or chew up our shoes. Who wouldn’t want such an agreeable dog? (He does buzz a lot, but I can get used to that.)
As a military resource, BigDog is supposed to deliver survival supplies and equipment — or, on a bad day, weapons, ammunition, explosives and the like. In my case, I plan to send him to Costco to get our groceries. He’s the only messenger I can trust to get the Macademia Nut Clusters home unopened.
Boston Dynamics’ engineers were contracted in August 2007 to develop a robot with the ability to run, maneuver and jump to avoid obstacles. The robot would measure 1 meter tall and 2 meters wide, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The goal of the project is to produce a robot with animal-like strength, speed and mobility.
The BigDog four-legged robot set a new autonomous distance record for legged robots last year by traveling 12.8 miles without human intervention. It currently walks at a rate of up to 5 mph and guess what? That’s Octo-woman’s walking speed exactly. See, we were meant for each other.
The Defense Department recently arranged for some testing at Fort Benning, Georgia. BigDog followed a series of GPS waypoints to set the record and walked at a rate of 2.5 mph, avoiding obstacles autonomously across a varied terrain until its fuel ran out. It can even navigate successfully on snow and ice. Check out the results below:
BigDog’s contract was commissioned by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego. Oh. So far the project has cost $40 million. Darn. I may have to wait. That may be a little more than I can spend this month on a puppy.