I’ve been amazed to see how quickly web video has transitioned from novelty to mainstream. So often now interesting links come along with video. Here’s the latest, an electric pack mule.
When I read that Boston Dynamics had made a stable robot quadruped, I was intrigued enough to follow the link and look at the clip. What I wasn’t prepared for was how disturbing it was going to be to see two pairs of skinny disembodied human legs nervously schlepping across a field. I’m anthropomorphizing here, but you’ll forgive me when you see the video. I imagine they put the little black leggings on to keep mud out of the leg machinery, but those tights are perfectly tuned to make the effect all the more disturbing. I kept looking for the people in the machine, the stunt midgets or whatever, that were really making this thing work. Inspiring robotics, but I would be creeped out if these guys were carrying my luggage. Would I have to give them a tip? Would I have to tip both of them? How long after we invent truly helpful robots before they turn into surly, intimidating tip hounds?
As if it weren’t weird enough to see this skinny-legged push-me pull-you donkey freak, the same company makes robotic cockroaches. Here’s a movie of one named RHex. There’s another one that climbs walls, called RiSE, and then there’s a doggy that does a dandy syncopated tap dance of a walk. Here’s the whole family. The movies are all good. The overall impression I get after looking at these videos is either A) these robots are sophisticated visitors from the future, or B) they are villains in a lame Half-Life mod.