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Humanoid robot for military showcases advances in robotics

Among the emerging technologies expected to transform society over the coming decades, robotics at all scales is interesting because it provides graphic evidence that technology is getting better at mimicking increasingly complex movement and behavior. Last month we noted the impressive progress achieved by Boston Dynamics’ AlphaDog project to develop a robot “pack animal” for the US military. Apparently there has been equally impressive progress in developing a humanoid robot capable of faithfully mimicking human movements to test protective suits for use by the military, and ultimately, to replace humans in a variety of arduous and dangerous tasks. This month IEEE Spectrum gave us this update: “Stunning Video of PETMAN Humanoid Robot From Boston Dynamics“, by Erico Guizzo:

… The humanoid, which will certainly be compared to the Terminator Series 800 model, can perform various movements and maintain its balance much like a real person.

Boston Dynamics is building PETMAN, short for Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin, for the U.S. Army, which plans to use the robot to test chemical suits and other protective gear used by troops. It has to be capable of moving just like a soldier — walking, running, bending, reaching, army crawling — to test the suit’s durability in a full range of motion. …

I also asked Raibert if they could eventually use PETMAN or PETMAN-related technologies in other projects. In other words, are we going to see PETMAN used in applications other than the chemical suit tests?

“You bet,” he says. “There are all sorts of things robots like PETMAN could be used for. Any place that has been designed for human access, mobility, or manipulation skills. Places like the Fukushima reactors could be accessed by PETMAN-like robots (or AlphaDogs), without requiring any human exposure to hazardous materials. Perhaps firefighting inside of buildings or facilities designed for human access, like on board ships designed for human crews.” …

After watching the video, Guizzo’s comparison to the Terminator Series 800 model doesn’t strike me as all that far-fetched. When they announce something that reminds us of the T-1000, I’ll know that advanced nanotechnology is imminent.

6 Responses to “Humanoid robot for military showcases advances in robotics”

  1. flashgordon Says:

    I thought the Japanese had humanoid robots that can walk around first?

  2. flashgordon Says:

    I also saw that robot that you showed years ago. that’s old news.

  3. flashgordon Says:

    As Eric Drexler says, the main problem is abuse; that’s right, people are the problem. The question is what do we value and how to get people to not abuse nanotechnology.

  4. flashgordon Says:

    You people remind me of people who get all worked up and go get the librarian because I’m using the disabled cubicle in the restroom, even though there’s not a disabled person in sight. I mean you guys act like this and start saying we’ve got to have foresight. I go and try to explain irrationality to you all, and you all run and hide. Foresight institute has turned into nothing but a front for the fact that you don’t want to address some disturbing things about humanity.

    Then, you guys/gals are frustrated that nobody is posting but me. Well, you’ve scared people away from thought! People are to scared to make a mistake. They’re affraid of being labelled a this or that by you guys because of the above behaviors(and more) indicated.

    Although Barnes went well over the line, i just feel like this with respect to you all!

  5. Petman and lifelike movement « FrogHeart Says:

    [...] to the Nov. 7, 2011 posting on the Foresight Institute blog, I’ve found Petman, Last month we noted the impressive [...]

  6. flashgordon Says:

    Yea, this is pretty symbolic of humanity! Only, they like to pretend they are mature by going to church on Sundays, to ask for forgiveness!

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