Down Boy – Google Reveals Human-Proof Robot Dog

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Developed by robot specialists Boston Dynamics, Spot can cope with hills, rough terrain, and even human kicks

The robot revolution may have gained its first loyal companion this week, as Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics unveiled the latest iteration of its mechanical dog.

Developed by the former military contractor, which was acquired by Google in December 2013, Spot marks the latest step forward in the development of advanced robotics.

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Building upon Boston Dynamics’ previous BigDog (pictured below), AlphaDog and LS3 robots, Spot (far left) features four hydraulic legs, a sensor head to help him navigate and the ability to remain upright even when walking on rough terrain, up steps or when kicked by a member of the Boston Dynamics team.

Powered by an electric motor that keeps a series of hydraulic actuators running, Boston Dynamics says that Spot will be used primarily for search and rescue, mapping, or accessing disaster zones.

Weighing in at 160lbs, Spot is lighter than its predecessors, and is able to greatly outspeed its older brother when travelling uphill. However, the company it won’t be able to carry as much weight or withstand as much damage as the other models.

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Boston Dynamics was the eighth acquisition made to support Google’s mysterious robotics unit, managed by former Android OS chief Andy Rubin.

Spun off from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1992, the company uses sensors, on-board computers and hydraulics to create robots that run, climb sheer walls and jump over obstacles.

In the past, its projects were often funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – an organisation created in the middle of the Cold War to oversee research and development on behalf of the US Department of Defence.

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