Alpha Dog demonstrates what quadruped robots can do

By Skyler Frink
Quadruped robots have fantastic utility, being able to traverse most forms of terrain that ground troops can move makes them incredibly versatile, but certain limitations have always held them back. Historically these robots have been slow moving, loud, and incapable of picking themselves up if they fall down (and eventually any machine will make a mistake regardless of how well built or programmed it is).

Well, Boston Dynamics has once again proven that quadruped technology is more than just a pipe dream. Their Alpha Dog robot has now demonstrated the ability to move on flat surfaces at 7 mph, traverse rocky, unstable terrain at 3 mph, and even right itself when it falls on its side. It even does all of this while carrying a 400 lb. load.

Not only is the Alpha Dog much more capable than previous quadruped robots, it can automatically follow soldiers who are carrying a mobile device while avoiding obstacles, and operates more quietly than ever before. Those who have tested the robot have said it is now possible to carry on a conversation while walking alongside it, a huge improvement over the very noisy Big Dog robot.

DARPA plans on using these robots alongside soldiers in operational exercises, where these robots will be considered for deployment. With advances like these being made it's only a matter of time before we see them trotting alongside soldiers, lightening their loads and, perhaps, performing other duties as well. There's a lot you can do with a robot that can travel anywhere, sense objects and carry 400 lbs.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12
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