AI News, Marc Raibert: What's New Since BigDog? (IROS 2013 Keynote)

Marc Raibert: What's New Since BigDog? (IROS 2013 Keynote)

Marc Raibert, CTO and founder of Boston Dynamics, the company famous for robots like BigDog, AlphaDog, Petman, Atlas,Cheetah, and WildCat, gave attendees a peek at some of the projects that are keeping him and his engineers busy.

Raibert, wearing his customary Aloha shirt,played several videos, including some that Boston Dynamics has not made publicly available.The footage and outtakes showing the company's robots walking, running, climbing, and jumping—and, occasionally, breaking and crashing—left the robot-loving audience ecstatic.

Overall it was a fascinating presentation—a rare look inside a secretive company that builds some of the world's coolest robots—so we thought we would share some highlights, along with videos Raibert showed that are publicly available (and that you probably have already seen in this blog):

'This is our dream'—Raibert started things off with a video of goats climbing a steep mountain, followed by footage of parkour runners leaping and maneuvering around obstacles.

Machines interact with the physical world and follow the laws of physics, he explained, and instructions from a control system 'are just suggestions' on how the robot should behave.

'Here's AlphaDog doing some bushwhacking'—BigDog originated many projects at Boston Dynamics, Raibert said, and one of them was AlphaDog (officially named LS3), a massive quadruped designed to carry heavy loads in rough terrain.

While BigDog could carry 125 lbs and had a range of 12 miles, the goals for AlphaDog are a payload of 400 lbs and range of 20 miles.

Among the improvements, they were able to get more power from the robot's engine and succeeded in buildingan integrated hydraulics structure with no exposed cables.

With control coming along well, Raibert said energy density and efficiency are the biggest challenges now (he didn't give much detail but said they're using an 'exotic engine').

Atlas will have to do even more—the list of tasks for the DRC competition includes driving a vehicle, walking on rough terrain, climbing ladders, and using power tools.

Boston Dynamics' Bigger BigDog Robot Is Alive

Like BigDog, the new robot is designed to assist soldiers in carrying heavy loads over rough terrain.

But whereas the original BigDog could carry a payload of 340 pounds (about 150 kilograms) and had a range of 12 miles(20 kilometers), LS3 can carry 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and will have a range of 20 miles (about 30 kilometers).

It's also quieter, and the Boston Dynamics engineers are teaching it some new tricks:It will be able to jump over obstacles, right itself after a fall, and navigate with greater autonomy than its predecessor.

Raibert awed the audience with some amazing videos of the LS3 robot mule navigating rough terrain, trotting, and getting shoved (without losing its balance) not by one but two people at the same time!

Raibert again stunned the audience with some really impressive videos of the humanoid walking, kneeling, squatting, and even doing push-ups!

Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics is an American[1] engineering and robotics design company that is best known for the development of BigDog, a quadruped robot designed for the U.S. military with funding from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),[2][3] and DI-Guy, software for realistic human simulation.

Early in the company's history, it worked with the American Systems Corporation under a contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) to replace naval training videos for aircraft launch operations with interactive 3D computer simulations featuring DI-Guy characters.[4] The company is a pioneer in the field of robotics and it is one of the most advanced in its domain.[5][6][7][8] Marc Raibert is the company's president and project manager.

He spun the company off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992.[9] On 13 December 2013, the company was acquired by Google X (later X, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.) for an unknown price,[10] where it was managed by Andy Rubin until his departure from Google in 2014.[11] Immediately before the acquisition, Boston Dynamics transferred their DI-Guy software product line to VT MÄK, a simulation software vendor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[12] On 8 June 2017, Alphabet Inc.

BigDog was a quadrupedal robot created in 2005 by Boston Dynamics, in conjunction with Foster-Miller, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Harvard University Concord Field Station.[14] It was funded by the DARPA in the hopes that it would be able to serve as a robotic pack mule to accompany soldiers in terrain too rough for vehicles, but the project was shelved after BigDog was deemed too loud to be used in combat.[15][16] Instead of wheels, BigDog used four legs for movement, allowing it to move across surfaces that would defeat wheels.

This wheeled robot weighs 11 pounds (5 kg), and drives like a remote-controlled car on flat surfaces.[27] The robot uses gyro stabilization to stay level during flight, to provide a clear view from the onboard camera, and to ensure a smooth landing.

To develop the LS3, Boston Dynamics has assembled a team including engineers and scientists from Boston Dynamics, Carnegie Mellon, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation and Woodward HRT.[32] The Agile Anthropomorphic Robot 'Atlas' is a 6-foot (183 cm) bipedal humanoid robot, based on Boston Dynamics' earlier PETMAN humanoid robot, and designed for a variety of search and rescue tasks.[33] Atlas is a high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain.

Several copies of the Atlas robot are being provided as Government Furnished Equipment for the DARPA Robotics Challenge program with delivery scheduled in the summer of 2013.[34][needs update] In February 2016 Boston Dynamics published a YouTube video[35] entitled 'Atlas, The Next Generation' showing a new humanoid robot about 5' 9' tall (175 cm, about a head shorter than the original DRC Atlas).

Visible/IR cameras and illuminators provide front and rear views from the robot.[38] Boston Dynamics released the Spot Mini which only weighs 25 kg (55 pounds) and is lighter than their other products.[39] The robot runs off of electricity and can operate for about 90 minutes, all depending on the tasks it is set to complete.

Our robotic overlords: The talks of Session 2 of TED2017

machines are growing smarter by the day, and while they’re taking us to places we’ve never imagined, we seem to be losing turf as the supreme thinking and feeling being.

from robots that can pass college entrance exams and learn human values to the future of personal mobility (hint: we’re going to fly).

SpotMini, an electronic quadruped robot that looks like a cross between a large dog and a small giraffe, trots onstage, circles the red carpet and acknowledges the audience before taking its place alongside Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics —

He takes us through a status report of robots he’s developing towards these ends, showing video featuring BigDog, a cheetah-like robot that runs with a galloping gait;

With that, SpotMini wakes up, under the direction of Boston Dynamics’s Seth Davis, and to the delight of the TED crowd shows off its omnidirectional gait, moving sideways, running in place and hopping back and forth from side to side.

Arai turns her attention to how the robot did this: it broke down math problems into machine-readable formulas, multiple-choice questions into Googlable factoids and essay writing into a task of copying and combining.

Yet while this AI fell short of Todai last year, it scored among the top 20% of all the students who took the first stage national standardized test, and qualified for 60 percent of Japanese universities.

He says that this is the key to harnessing the full power of AI while also preventing the Armageddon of robotic takeover.  When we worry about robots becoming too intelligent or deviating from their programmed purpose, we’re worrying about what’s called “the value alignment problem,”

The solution involves Human-Compatible AI, which focuses on creating uncertainty in an altruistic robot’s objective and teaching it to fill that gap with knowledge of human values learned through observing human behavior.

Creating this human common sense in robots will “change the definition of AI so that we have provably beneficial machines … and, hopefully, in the process we will learn to be better people.”

More importantly, the object detection system can train for any image domain: “It is fully trainable so our method can be used to detect animals in natural images, cancer cells in medical biopsies or anything else you can imagine,”

Taking us back 30 years to the first intelligent assistant he created, which helped a cerebral palsy patient communicate, to Siri, which helps us do everything from navigate cities to answer complex questions, Gruber explains his vision for “humanistic AI”

Gruber invites us into a future where superintelligent AI can augment our memories and help us remember the name of everyone we’ve ever met, every song we’ve ever heard and everything we’ve ever read.

His team is working with regulatory bodies to figure out the steps for making this craft available (first step: because it weighs less than 254 pounds, you don’t need a pilot’s license).

The New SpotMini

For more information . . . stay tuned.

BigDog Overview (Updated March 2010)

BigDog climbs in the woods, keeps its balance when kicked and when slipping on ice, travels through snow and mud, jogs 5 mph, and climbs some rubble.

Atlas, The Next Generation

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BigDog, the Rough-Terrain Robot

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Raw: Real Dog Meets Robot Dog

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Boston Dynamics All Robots - Extreme Test

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Star Wars AT-TE Type Robot Created by Boston Dynamics

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