Defense Dept. commissions 'Cheetah' robot and Terminator-like droid; hummingbird drone also in works
BY Philip Caulfield
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, February 27th 2011, 1:01 PM
Boston Dynamics' 'Cheetah' robot will be developed with a flexible spine and head. The company hopes it will eventually be able to sprint at speeds approaching 70 mph.
A Massachusetts engineering firm known for creating futuristic military robots has received multimillion dollar contracts to develop two more battlefield bots for the Department of Defense.
Boston Dynamics, which in 2008 unveiled a four-legged robot called BigDog, has been tapped by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research and development arm of the DOD, to create a human-like robot and an agile, robotic Cheetah that developers said will eventually be able to run 70 mph.
The human-like bot, Atlas, will have two arms and legs, but no head, and be able to walk and jog upright, climb, squeeze through narrow alleyways and use its hands, Boston Dynamics said.
The Terminator-like droid would represent a step forward from Boston Dynamic's current anthropomorphic robot, known at PETMAN, which is used to test chemical weapons protection suits for the Army.
The Cheetah will walk and sprint on four legs and will be designed to turn corners, zig-zag and start and stop on a dime.
Though the robocat will be able to run faster than humans and seems to be suited for chasing down enemy prey, the company said it was more interested in advancing the technology, rather than developing the robots' battlefield responsibilities.
"They're not so focused on what the ultimate use will be," Marc Raibert, lead investigator of the Cheetah program and Boston Dynamics' president, told the Boston Herald. "They're most focused on developing the technology and seeing what uses they can be applied to."