Cheetah Robot - Developed by Boston Dynamics and funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), this cheetah-inspired robot is the fastest four-legged robot ever built. It doesn’t run—it practically gallops, able to reach almost 29 km/h. Although it’s modelled on the stride pattern of a real cheetah, flexing and un-flexing its back as it runs, the Robo-Cheetah still has a long way to go before reaching its living counterparts’ high speeds of 120 km/h. It is currently being tested on a laboratory treadmill where it’s powered by a hydraulic pump, and it can’t run without the support of a boom-like device, but a free-running prototype will be tested later in 2012.
PET-PROTO - DARPA shows the PET-PROTO facing off against the kinds of obstacles it might encounter at the Challenge, using its Gekko-like legs to scale a knee-high ledge and leaping to the floor with a femur-splintering thud before traversing a wall-to-wall hole in a hallway floor.
«PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot designed for testing chemical protection clothing. Natural agile movement is essential for PETMAN to simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions. PETMAN balances itself and moves freely; walking, bending and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents. PETMAN also simulates human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating, all to provide realistic test conditions.»
“Dynamic Robot Manipulation”, Boston Dynamics. The fearsome - and a little unsettling - robot pack mule “Big Dog” can now throw objects with an arm built into its face. Presumably, inconvenient obstructions, or its playload. Not sure when we’ll see these in the field, but it’ll be quite a moment for the history books.