The ability of autonomous quadruped robots to cross very difficult terrain has taken another leap forward. The Defense Advanced Projects Agency sponsored work at Boston Dynamics in developing Little Dog is reported on in the video below. RR readers were introduced to Big Dog in 2008 (here). Think of the possibilities that this technology will enable in areas such as work in difficult terrains, search and rescue, prosthetics, mobility for the disabled, police work, and, of course, warfare. (H/T to an RR reader for the heads up on this update.)
[4jun2010 update] In a similar vein advances have been made in the brain-computer interfaces that allow direct neural control of machines. Here is an example of advanced prosthetics for amputees where the neural pick-off is trans-cutaneous from residual nerve endings that have been surgically re-positioned. And here is a breakthrough in a direct (wired) brain interface that allows a monkey to operate a complex mechanical arm. The use of the phrase 'mind control' in describing this is a little bit hopeful - using mind control is actually a whole new ballgame we'll cover another time.