The interwebs are buzzing thanks to a video of Boston Dynamics' newest machine, a large four-legged robot called WildCat. Developed with money from DARPA, the cat-like machine is a more production-grade development of an earlier research droid called Cheetah that could run at over 28 miles an hour.
WildCat can currently only run at 16 miles an hour, but it's more rugged and maneuverable than its research predecessor. It can successfully transition between different gait just like a real great cat can when it races and dodges across the prairies hunting food, which suggests the machine may ultimately be capable of much higher-speed sprinting.
It's also possible that, given the robot is built as part of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program, that WildCat is an attempt at resolving some of the speed and agility issues with current-generation robot tech so that "robots could assist in the execution of military operations far more effectively across a far greater range of missions."
WildCat's offspring, like the similar Alpha Dog troop support droid, may end up on the battlefield--or more likely sprinting across it. While Alpha Dog will end up hauling military gear across difficult terrain, it's easy to imagine WildCat as a more aggressive machine, possibly used to tote weapons to strategic positions.
Oh, and that amazing Atlas android the company makes--the one that gets inevitably compared to the Terminator? Yup, they've updated that machine too. Check out the video of this below, and be amazed at the confidence with which the robot tromps across uneven terrain. While it looks terrifying, Atlas may have a very important future in human assistance because it could, for example, tear its way into a collapsed or burning building to rescue survivors under conditions human firefighters couldn't tolerate.
Tomorrow's robots are here already people, and Boston Dynamics will be back.
[Image: Boston Dynamics]