BigDog Update, the Cinder Block Hurler

It would be hard to forget BigDog, the robot created by Boston Dynamics that can travel through unstable terrain. In its last update, AlphaDog, it learned to follow a person around. And in this new one, BigDog has learned how to be a weightlifter.

In just five years since its conception, BigDog has learned how to hurl 50-pound heavy blocks of concrete. How does it do this?

If you’re familiar with the mechanics of muscles, you’ll know how throwing objects with arms is not only integrated with the arms, but the entire body, a fact shared by most modern organisms. The BigDog does essentially the same thing.

The goal of the new projects was to increase BigDog’s legs and torso strength to help the power motions of the arms. If you observe the robot in slow motion, this fact becomes obvious. The motion of the legs and knee joints during the moment when the cinder block is thrown leads to an increase in force and momentum as the swing moves in the opposite direction.

Cool, huh? This could make BigDog much more effective on the field as a recon robot; no longer shall it be obstructed by cinder blocks any more! Although I suppose now BigDog can throw a number of different heavy objects now… it’s okay.

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