On these pages we have been following the remarkable technological advances in all-terrain walking pack robots of the Big and Little Dog programs (here). The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding this program at Boston Dynamics, the development contractor. Alpha Dog is the latest generation in this program, and shows a mule sized mechanical critter that is designed to carry a 400 pound payload (horses are “comfortable” carrying about 250 lbs). The video shows off the progress to date.
I will really get excited when they strap a power pack into this beast that makes it totally autonomous for carrying such loads over rough terrain for hours. The energy density required of such a power source will challenge current designs. (Anyone ever wonder how R2-D2 and his little buddy of Star Wars fame were powered. They were autonomous and never needed recharging, refilling, or a change of whatever made them go. Alpha Dog could do with one of those.) More here on Alpha Dog from the IEEE report, and we look forward to the release of the videos of humanoid robots doing similar tasks over rough terrain.
H/T to RR reader for the tip on this latest step toward the Singularity.