A View from Kristina Grifantini

Meet BigDog's Two-Legged Brother

Boston Dynamics shows off its new two-legged military robot.

  • October 27, 2009

The company that created BigDog–a headless robotic pack mule with an impressively realistic gait–recently released a video of another robot, Petman.

This bipedal bot walks on two legs and can recover from a push, using the same balancing technology that allows BigDog to recover from a kick or keep its balance when walking on ice.

While BigDog was designed to carry payloads for soldiers in the field, Petman will be used for military chemical suit research. In the final version, which should be ready in 2011, Petman will have a range of motions. According to the company:

Unlike previous suit testers, which had to be supported mechanically and had a limited repertoire of motion, PETMAN will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.

The finished Petman will also mimic human physiology, for example sweating in response to temperature and humidity changes, to make it a realistic testing device for the suits.

According to the IEEE’s Automaton blog, the prototype currently has a top speed of 3.2 mph. Watch a video of Petman striding smoothly along a treadmill track below.

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