Boston Dynamics

Though it comes as no surprise, Leg Lab spinoff Boston Dynamics (of BigDog and PETMAN fame) announced earlier this month that it has been awarded a contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop the first ever “Legged Squad Support System.”

The legged robot, called the LS3, will be designed to lighten warfighters’ load by carrying over 400 lbs of gear and enough fuel for missions covering 20 miles and lasting 24 hours. Development of LS3 will take 30 months at a cost of $32M, with first walk out scheduled for 2012.

In a press release, Boston Dynamics president Marc Raibert PhD ’77 said, “If LS3 can offload 50 lbs from the back of each solider in a squad, it will reduce warfighter injuries and fatigue and increase the combat effectiveness of our troops.”

Learn more about BigDog, PETMAN, the LS3 program, and the Waltham-based company, Boston Dynamics.

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Photo: Boston Dynamics

The MIT spinoff robotics company, Boston Dynamics, recently released footage of their PETMAN prototype, a biped robot the balances dynamically using a human-like walking motion. The company says it is a close relative of BigDog, sharing elements of the mechanical design and control. However unlike BigDog, PETMAN will be used to test chemical protection clothing by the US Army. The biped will simulate human physiology within its suit by changing temperature, humidity, and even sweating when necessary.

After a 13 month design phase, the program has a 17 month build, installation, and validation phase. Delivery is scheduled for 2011.

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Photo: Sandia National Laboratories

Photo: Sandia National Laboratories

Boston Dynamics, the MIT spinoff now famous for its quadruped robots, is working on a new urban-surveillance robot that is capable of launching itself more than 25 feet in the air.

The Precision Urban Hopper is semi-autonomous and about the size of a shoe box. It typically relies on four wheels to get around, but a piston-actuated leg that has been likened to an explosive pogo stick allows it to hop over obstacles 40-60 times its own height.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico originally designed the hopper, which is being funded through the military’s research wing, DARPA. Waltham-based Boston Dynamics was recently awarded the contract for producing the next generation of robots. Delivery is planned for late 2010.

Watch a video of the Precision Urban Hopper:

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