Dec 292015
 
BigDog

Source: DARPA Strategic Plan 2007

At 70 robot dog years-old – that’s 10 in human years – BigDog should’ve had a few more years of happily serving his masters ahead of him. Instead, the US Marines have pulled an Old Yeller on the unsuspecting robocanine, sending him to an early grave, or junkyard as the case may be.

Created in 2005, BigDog was the result of a collaborative effort between robotics design company Boston Dynamics, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and researchers at Harvard University. Funding for BigDog came from the always forward-thinking Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with development guidance and testing handled by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

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Mar 042006
 

Boston Dynamics' BigDog

Defense contractor Boston Dynamics has recently posted video of its BigDog four-legged robot pack mule in action. Funded by DARPA, BigDog is being developed for the US military to carry heavy gear for soldiers across terrain that is not suitable for vehicles. Measuring a little over 3 feet long by 2.5 feet high and weighing 165 pounds, it is indeed closer in size to a large canine than a pack mule. Nonetheless, BigDog seems up to the challenge. It can walk at speeds of up to 3.3 mph, climb 35 degree slopes and carry loads of 120 lbs, following a simple path autonomously or more complicated routes under remote control.

Feb 152006
 
Stanley the Stanford University Volkswagen

Stanley the Stanford University Volkswagen

Fresh off their 1st place finish at Darpa’s Grand Challenge 2005 and not content to rest on their laurels, the robotics experts from Stanford University have announced their next goal is to develop an autonomous vehicle capable of driving from San Francisco City Hall to downtown Los Angeles, at highway speeds no less! Gizmodo.com has a summary today of an article published last weekend by the Palo Alto Online News revealing this ambitious goal. Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, spoke with the publication recently offering some insight into Stanley’s fate and the direction of Stanford’s robot vehicle development program.

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Nov 052005
 
Visual Neural Patterns

source: Poggio/DiCarlo Labs

MIT has published a news release about how neuroscientists in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research have recently made significant advances in their attempts to learn how the inferotemporal (IT) cortex identifies and categorizes visual data. The ability to visually recognize objects, while usually taken for granted because it happens quickly, automatically, and subconsciously, is actually a complex problem for the brain to solve. This research provides some insight into how the brain encodes, formats and saves visual information.

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Oct 092005
 
Stanley the Stanford University Volkswagon

Stanley the Stanford University Volkswagon

The results of Grand Challenge 2005 are in, and Stanley the Volkswagon is the winner! Developed by a team from Stanford University, Stanley was able to complete the 132 mile course through the Mojave Desert in 6 hours and 53 minutes beating 3 other vehicles that were able to make it to the finish line within the 10 hour deadline. A fifth vehicle finished the course but not in time.

Second and third place were both captured by the Carnegie Mellon Red Team. Sandstorm, the Humvee that actually traveled the furthest last year, finished second, and H1ghlander, the Hummer that started in the pole position finished third. Rounding out the group of vehicles completing the challenge on time was Kat-5, a Ford Escape hybrid, designed by a team of students from Louisiana who suffered a severe set back last month when Hurricane Katrina struck, destroying many of their homes and making it impossible for them to practice.

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Oct 062005
 

Carnegie Mellon H1ghlanderThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, aka DARPA, announced the 23 finalists who have been chosen to compete in this year’s Grand Challenge, a race between autonomous robotic vehicles over a grueling course of up to 175 miles in the Mojave Desert. A red Hummer named H1ghlander developed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University has qualified for the pole position in this year’s race. It will be competing against vehicles of all shapes and sizes including a a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Volkswagen Touareg, and a six-wheeled truck sponsored by other schools and private companies.

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