Marines Send Google's Robotic Dog To Training Camp

 

Spot, the newest Marine Corps trainee, may not be the first robotic dog to be deployed overseas, but if it (he?) gets that far, it will be the first dog robot to do the job that real dogs could be doing for the military without risking their lives.  But do you think quadra-pet robots could eventually become pals with their Marine trainers?

 

See "Spot" Run!: image via youtube.comSee "Spot" Run!: image via youtube.com

 

"Spot" checks out the terrain: image via youtube.com"Spot" checks out the terrain: image via youtube.com

 

The latest addition to a line of 4-legged robots manufactured by Google-owned Boston Dynamics is 160 pounds and hydraulically actuated, maneuverable by a wireless game controller hooked up to a laptop. It can be effectively controlled from up to 500 feet away.  Spot is lighter, faster, more efficient, and definitely less clunky than its predecessors.  It's pretty resilient too, as you can see in the following video as it is kicked by humans and challenged by terrain....

 

 

 

Spot has LIDAR sensors in its head that can be programmed to pick up the presence of explosives and other dangers in the environment.  In this Marine Corps video of Spot entering a potentially dangerous structure, you will see the robot scouting for such dangers, a task that the Corps does not allow its real-life working dogs to perform.


 

If many Spots are deployed for use in military ground exercises, they would save the lives of real dogs now used in the military.  Spots are more capable at detection, navigating terrain, and carrying heavy loads.  But stories of the bonds between military handlers and their dogs are legend and, at this time, it is unlikely that Spots can be programmed to be man's or woman's best friend.

The first of four dog robots built by Boston Dynamics, BigDog, was released in 2008. 

 

Sources:  RDMag, ArsTechnica

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