Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Meet the Robot Mule Google Is Now Making for the Marines

LS3 robot mule 2xYesterday Google announced, via the New York Times, that it had bought Boston Dynamics, a robotics company that specializes in amazing machines that walk and run.

Boston Dynamics does a lot of work for the U.S. military, and while Google tells the Times that it does “not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on its own,” it is going to keep working on its existing contracts.

Which means that Google is now the company behind Legged Squad Support System, a robotic mule built for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). No need for me to keep typing when you can watch this video the U.S. Marines have made of the LS3 going through its paces:

Do you like watching videos about amazing robots? Does the idea of watching those videos become even more intriguing when you know that Google is now the company that owns the tech behind those amazing robots?

Then today is your lucky day, because Boston Dynamics has 21 videos up on its YouTube page. A quick highlight tour:

Here’s a Boston Dynamics “Cheetah” robot running at more than 28 miles an hour:

Here’s the “Wild Cat,” which can go 16 miles an hour, but isn’t confined to a treadmill:

Here’s the “Petman,” designed to “test the performance of protective clothing designed for hazardous environments”:

And here’s a “weaponized” version of Boston Dynamics’ “Big Dog”:

(Images: DARPA)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik