Meet WildCat, The Galloping Robot Animal And Future Soldier's Companion

The same firm that is bringing us intimidatingly real military androids now has a cat-like machine that can run at 16 miles an hour.

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]

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49 Comments

  • Luis Antezana (luckylou)

    Cool first step in a very long path to being actually useful. Obviously not very useful at this phase. Not terrain-diverse. Could get knocked over and couldn't get itself back up. Etc. But cool to imagine where it's going to go from here!

  • Phoenix Niesley-Lindgren Watt

    This is awesome, but why do they have it running backwards?  The legs of a cat, dog, or horse bend opposite to how they have this thing running.  Just curious as to why they thought running the legs "backwards" was better?

  • justinTimeAgain

    This thing? Jesus... We've been hearing about this for the past 10 years.

  • Max Entropy

    <cough>Skynet<cough>

    I wonder how fast if could run over rocky terrain carrying 4 cans of 50 cal to a gun position running a little low.</cough></cough>

  • Mel

    Wow, that is wild. How long until they can put a skin on it and put it in a zoo? 

  • Amy

    Another problem with this "wildcat"... Soldiers have been studied to empathize and form emotional connections with robots.  This robot is similar to a dog (man's best friend), which means they might even value the robot's safety over their own. 

  • JTravianDTeriusJacksonIII

     Great advancement.  Too many moving parts.  Wouldn't last.  Pretty cool, though.

  • Indiana Montoya

    So its like a donkey? Are those hard to come by? Maybe just in boston? If I had the choice, I'd rather be resupplied via aerial drone and have a trained dog by my side.

  • Swartzy

    That is great but it is so bulky I don't see where it would be of value yet.  Also unless it can withstand land mines it is very vulnerable.   Keep going and make it better we can use "mules" for lots of situations. 
     

  • medicmike

    as if this is about helping soldiers lol how stupid do you think we are ? the fact is its about making a soldier that never says no , robot your ordered to kill a baby ...yes sir .. 

  • Django

    High tensile cable or wire would stop that in a heart beat.
     People fail to realize that hardware no matter how advanced it is does not win the war, a willing and hardened fighting force is what wins. Ask the Mujahedin  that fought the Soviets if hardware was important. Ask the Vietnamese if hardware was important. Ask the Taliban and Al Qaeda if hardware is important.
    The Mujahedin, Taliban, Al Qaeda and Vietnamese had no air force, tanks, smart bombs, stealth, satellite imaging, drones, bio chemical weapons, hardened vehicles, or a Navy.
    Something tells me this will end up in the DHS and used against Americans before it is ever deployed overseas!

  • Colt

    It doesn't matter how willing or hardened the fighting force is if they're all men with sticks fighting hoards of remote robots with attached lasers and rockets. Hardware matters. That's why we don't still just have a bunch of dudes wailing on each other with their fists and teeth - someone developed spears, and then someone else made shields to guard from the spears, then bronze swords, followed by armor to guard from those swords, then iron, etc. There's more than one aspect needed to win a war; willful people alone don't do it, technology alone doesn't do it, but history has shown that whoever has had the best hardware and the best technology has an undeniable advantage.

  • Django

    Since the Korean war we have had the best hardware with little or nothing to show for it. We had a tie in Korea, a loss in Vietnam, we beat the ferocious Grenadian army, ran away in Beirut after the barracks bombing during the Lebanese civil war, and are in a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan that we are still fighting over a decade later.

    In  WW2 the Nazi's had jets, stealth, and the  STG 44 basically what Kalashnikov ripped off to create the AK 47, they also had the best tanks in the war such as Panzers and Tiger tanks. They were also the only nation in the war that had a missile program the V-2 rockets that rained down on their enemies. Guess what they still got their ass kicked.

    Again I am not talking about bows and arrows versus battle rifles. I am saying to rely solely on "HARDWARE" is a war killer. I will take a hardened and disciplined fighting force versus an army that tries to bypass them any day of the week. The only option to overcome getting beat and relying on hardware would be a NUKE, or biological s.

  • BeenThereDoneThat

    You , my friend, do not understand half of the concepts you are rambling on about. Boston Dynamics works in soldier assistance not soldier replacement.The atlas project may be for a humanoid robot but everyone is more than aware of how far away we are from any kind of direct replacement. As for talking about Iraq and Afganistan or any recent middle eastern conflict, we as a military force could waltz in and wreck everything if that was our aim but it isn't. We aren't in an all out war with the Middle East and even so the number of US Military personel that have died is far, far outweighed by the loss of life for any (recent) opposing force. The little loss of life we have had is due to good soldiers, yes, but also due to good Intel and reliable and useful hardware. We could fight with little technological assistance but why? When good intel, survellience drones and what have you help save lives. There is no reason to not use the tools we have available to us. Good day, sir.

  • WIll

    You Better make that thing a Hell of a lot more quiet if you want to send it on a patrol with me!!!!

  • Chris Brown

    Congratulations to the people that made this progress.  When I saw the story and video link-I thought
    this would be more of the same tethered experiments done in a lab.

     

    When I saw this thing running free and untethered out in the
    open- I was blown away!

     

    Simply amazing.  This
    has many applications that will help mankind. 
    Many more things than just warfare.

     

    Imagine sending out 25 of these things to look for people
    lost in the snow covered forest.  They
    can move at great speeds and save lives!

     

    Keep up the GREAT work!

     

    You anti-DARPA people need to realize that most of the technology
    that you use and enjoy in everyday life started out as an idea developed by
    DARPA!

     

    The Smartphone is just ONE example!  This is money well spent!

  • Scott Steers

    Folks, we were using 1.4 mb floppy disks 15 years ago and now we are commonly using resiliant TB solid state drives and USB drives we can barely see. In another 15 years they will have refined the AI and agility basics and engineer a carcas that is combat capable. Thats when Skynet will come online.

  • Chris Brown

    Yeah!  And we were supposed to get Godzilla because of the Atom bomb.  70 years later- where is Godzilla?

    Only in the mind of you doom and gloom End of the world types!

    You guys claim we'll all die soon from the BS of global warming- so why worry?