A robot that can gallop on four legs looks more like a gazelle leaping through the field rather than a gas-powered, high tech creation that is the newest invention from Boston Dynamics. But this galloping robot isn’t being chased by lions nor is it in any danger of being torn apart. In fact, it is immortal and eventually it will be able to run on any type of terrain.
Previously, Boston Dynamics built four other types of robots, the fastest of which, The Cheetah, can reach a speed of a whopping 29 miles per hour. This newest robot, named Wildcat, joins siblings The Sandflea, The Cheetah, The Bigdog and The Atlas. Its name is appropriate; it resembles an animal in its gait and almost fools the eye and brain. If it were covered with fur and placed in a natural environment it would be difficult to distinguish it from an organic being.
Currently, The Wildcat can only run 16 miles per hour, but very shortly, it will be able to get up to a lighting fast speed of 50 miles per hour. Watching it in its current form is enough to send a chill down the spine. It is so lifelike, so precise and so realistic in its movement that it’s absolutely graceful. At 16 MPH it’s stunning; at 50 MPH it will border on shockingly scary.
Watching the robot calls to mind CGI animation seen in hundreds of science fiction movies, only this is for real. Boston Dynamics says that the video embedded below showcases the best Wildcat has done far:
WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat’s best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA’s M3 program.
Applications could include military battle, but while the common person feels slightly frightened just looking at this incredible creature running in an empty parking lot with no murderous motives, the sight of this smoking steel robot bounding toward a target with the intent to kill would be absolutely horrifying.
Indeed, some online reviewers call the new robot “terrifying.” It seems so because it looks as though it should be a living, breathing biological specimen but it’s not. The brain almost has a difficult time processing the reality of this creature because the human brain is used to seeing such naturalistic movement only from things that are really alive.
Adding to the trepidation someone feels when watching this robot run is the knowledge that scientists are feverishly working toward the day when robots are able to reason and think for themselves. Scientists also say that robots will be able to reason and to self-replicate. Combining a self-replicating, self-aware robot with the ability for it to run up to 50 miles per hour seems like it might not be a very good idea. This robot on four legs gallops like a gazelle, so it might be best to keep it in a state where it is not self-aware lest it decide it doesn’t want to obey its human commanders.
By: Rebecca Savastio