Latest version of LittleDog from CLMC and Boston Dynamics (video)

LittleDog from Boston Dynamics and CLMC at USC doing an obstacle courseOur last look BigDog from at Boston Dynamics, most agreed that its movements were beginning to look eerily life-like. The latest version of LittleDog, shown in the video below, is nothing short of breathtaking. Six teams were provided with the LittleDog chassis and funding; this version contains AI software created by the Computational Learning and Motor Control Lab at USC (specific project webpage). See the video after the jump.

LittleDog video – 2010

(Visit the article if you can’t see this video)

The size of the bot compared to a human hand is shown near the end of the video. Sign me up for a robotic-pet version. The summarized specs of LittleDog as described on Boston Dynamics’ site:

LittleDog has four legs, each powered by three electric motors. The legs have a large range of motion. The robot is strong enough for climbing and dynamic locomotion gaits. The onboard PC-level computer does sensing, actuator control and communications. LittleDog’s sensors measure joint angles, motor currents, body orientation and foot/ground contact. Control programs access the robot through the Boston Dynamics Robot API. Onboard lithium polymer batteries allow for 30 minutes of continuous operation without recharging. Wireless communications and data logging support remote operation and data analysis. LittleDog development is funded by the DARPA Information Processing Technology Office.

For detailed specifications check out CLMC’s paper on LittleDog research (PDF), published at the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (one of four Best Paper Award finalists).

It’s worth mentioning that USC was the only team to outperform the government program’s guidelines on 5 out of 6 tests, achieving an average speed of 8.7 cm per second. (Congratulations to the team—Mrinal Kalakrishnan, Peter Pastor, Michael Mistry and Jonas Buchli).

Cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war

The research is funded by DARPA and carried out in collaboration with MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, USC, Univ. of Pennsylvania and IHMC.

While the scientists working at Boston Dynamics and collaborating institutes envision the ‘bots being used for various purposes, DARPA’s point of view is to use them to haul equipment and luggage wherever needed on a battlefield. The first versions for fieldwork are called Legged Squad Support Systems (LS3); a type of completely autonomous robots, very similar to BigDog, that will be able to follow a human leader through rough terrain using computer vision and GPS systems. The LS3 program is jointly funded by the US Marine Corps.

The first “walk out” for LS3s is scheduled for 2012.

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