Meet AlphaDog, Robotic Packmule Extraordinaire

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Meet AlphaDog, Robotic Packmule Extraordinaire

AlphaDog can carry 400 pounds across rough terrain for 20 miles, and looks absolutely terrifying.

If you've been following military-funded research and development over the last decade, you've likely heard of BigDog, the robot designed by researchers at Boston Dynamics to serve as a mobile packmule for soldiers in the field. Ideally, the robot would be able to walk alongside troops, carrying heavy loads, and traversing terrain too difficult for wheel- or tread-based vehicles. BigDog worked, and was a reasonable proof of concept, but Boston Dynamics was not satisfied. Its researchers went back to the drawing board, and four years later, we have AlphaDog.

Like its predecessor, AlphaDog "walks" much like a mechanized donkey. Unlike BigDog however, AlphaDog can tote up to 400lbs on its back and continue walking for up to 20 miles across terrain that would give most humans trouble.

Admittedly, AlphaDog won't be breaking any speed records. It takes a full 24 hours to cover those 20 miles, but as it's designed to walk alongside troops in potentially hostile territory, it has no need to sprint like a cheetah.

The really impressive bit is that AlphaDog doesn't need any kind of guidance when strolling alongside a group of soldiers. Instead its onboard sensors allow it to follow a designated "leader," both matching his/her pace and overcoming any obstacles that may present themselves.

AlphaDog is an undeniably cool advancement in the field of utilitarian robotics, but it does leave a bit to be desired in the aesthetics department. There is just something incredibly unnatural about the machine's gait. It's like watching an industrial leather cutter finally break free from its subservient role, only to pick up a job carrying weights across a gravel pit because it doesn't know what else to do. Every step is furious, yet AlphaDog has no idea why.

Honestly, it's a bit depressing, at least until you see how the machine rights itself after being knocked on its side. There is no reason why anything with only four legs should ever move like that outside of an Aphex Twin music video.

Hopefully Boston Dynamics can iron out the residual horror by the time AlphaDog begins field testing in 2012.



I think everyone will be with me as we all respond with a nice thought out response of...


Ahem. Thank you.

Why are we in such a hurry to bring about Judgement Day?

Hands down the best part about this is when they are giving it a shove.
THAT is the creepiest part. The way it stays up, and rights itself.
The walk? Mechanical.
The 'getting up'? Mechanical.
The 'I'm not going to fall down'? Creepy.

Can it walk without being hooked up yet?

The horror is there for a reason.
The "Equipment" it will be carrying is large weaponry. If one of those started shooting at you, you'd run.

Can we please just focus on cloning and transferring our consciousness into robots so we can get on with Total Annihilation already?

This thing scares the shit out of me, I think it's the legs.

I hope they never use these for combat, can you imagine it charging at you like it does at 0:37?!

Also, the way it stumbles reminds me way too much of the hunters from Half Life 2

They're still working on this?

Bloody hell...

At least they worked out that annoying buzzing sound that BigDog used to make...

Brilliant, so how long until the Marines deploy with Hunters as back up?

It's walk cycle even reminds me of a hunter when they give it a shove.

1:07 - end
"yay we killed it! ...oooooorrrr we pissed it off... RUN!"

i'm less creeped out and more impressed by things like this. just imagine what it takes for it to correct itself like that, the programmers would not have to program for one event but for the infinite possibilities and situations that robot would be in out in the field. Add in the fact that the servos in the legs would have to move pretty damn fast to react in time and you got some pretty impressive machinery... if you can call it that now.

At first it looked like it walks a bit clumsy but it's suprisingly stable. When those guys shoved it, I just thought that they're really mean, forgetting for a second that it doesn't think on it's own.
Also, am I the only one who had to think about Hunters from ep2 when I saw that thing for the first time?

Can it walk without being hooked up yet?

Not sure if this one can, but the predecessor, BigDog, seemed to be able to manage it, as shown:

I think they showed this video here as well, but there it is again anyway. Maybe the field tests come later, once they've sorted out walking in the lab.

But yeh, they ought to keep the "residual horror" intact, anything to unsettle the opposing forces. I don't know what causes the buzzing sound (or if AlphaDog will make that sound when running out in the open) but it definitely adds to the freakiness. Like an angry nest of wasps marching towards you...

And why did it turn on you?

That's right. Because you shoved it.

Strap some machine guns to that thing and we're in business. The business of being dead, because it's pissed that you shoved it.

I don't know what causes the buzzing sound (or if AlphaDog will make that sound when running out in the open) but it definitely adds to the freakiness. Like an angry nest of wasps marching towards you...

The buzzing was caused by the fact BigDog was powdered by a propane engine, according to Boston Dynamics AlphaDog will be ten times quieter than BigDog. Also it can walk untethered, but for development and testing the have it on rails so it would not be damaged if it falls.

BigDig? BigDog?!

OH GOD THE NIGHTMARES RETURN! The creepy as fuck movements of that little mechanical bastard make my skin crawl for no apparent reason!

Quadruped war machines, here we COME! It's only a matter of time till someone makes an engine efficient enough, slaps heavy armor on that sucker and some artillery to boot.

To paraphrase a line from Firefly:
"If they catch us, we're humped!"

It looks like the sentry bots from Deus Ex:HR.

IT wont' be long before... Metal Gear....

The buzzing sounds like a motor or something, almost like a leaf-blower.

Please tell I'm not the only one who was freaked out watching that... the way it moves, something about it scares me

Allow me to take some of the fear away gentlemen, and ladies.

Still, these are honestly amazing advances.


is can has giant robot battle tiem nao? :D

Next up: Box Guards from Dues Ex: Human Revolution.

HOUNDS from Chromehounds.

Lazy people getting even lazier.

While this is very impressive, there's a LOT to do before this is combat ready. Or even remotely useful. But still, kudos to the designers and engineers for getting this far. You guys are amazing.

Now please tell me this is three laws compliant.

Actually, I don't think its walk is creepy at all. I think it's kind of chipper and charming. It sort of bounces along like its happy to be here. Its sort of adorable actually! Now paint it white and give it the voice of Wheatley from Portal 2 and it'll be the most darling piece of hardware on the market! I'll get one for my trips to walmart!

Extremely awesome. Especially the way it recovered from when it stepped on the loose rock.

Now it'll be interesting to see if they can have it figure out how to get up when the terrain it's fallen down on isn't nice and level -- and with a load on.

Man every time I see this thing it just creeps me out. I really have a feeling that DARPA wants this thing to be as intimidating as humanly possible. They are in the business of destroying humans (and humanity) so I guess it makes sense. I bet they've already got a version strapped with automatic weaponry, they just likely aren't showing that to the public...yet.

Rad. Though, to be honest, I'd rather a universal focus on powered exoskeletons. If we can get one country with an army of Iron Men, then that country can get to owning the entire world, which is a step to (Besides a very scary future) peace. Then we can finally get to space proper.

I don't want to die before we get to Mars.

Not the stealthiest sounding thing ever huh...

I still find these things very creepy. Very Combine-esque, if you will.

So, all we need to do now is make one a couple hundred tons bigger, add giant guns to it, and a pilot seat, and we'll finally have our own Mechwarrior! I want a Timberwolf, please.

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