May 23rd, 2009


Moving Sunday.

I'll be moving starting late morning Sunday. Pizza on me for lunch for anyone who helps, and sushi on me for dinner if you want to stick around until dinner time.

Give me a call if you want in - 303-817-5817.

Edit: Might as well post all the details. Meet at my old place (30th and O'Neal in N. Boulder - feel free to zoom up the street map in the lower-right corner) at 11am Sunday. I will have my step-dad's Ford F-250, so there will be plenty of truck space. I am going to try and be completely packed, so it'll mostly be carrying boxes down the stairs and out to the truck. The only heavy thing will be the TV; I'll give away the (small) couch on CL.

Boston Dynamics prototypes the T-600's legs.

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One of the American military’s leading humanoid robots is Petman. Its job will be to testing chemical protection clothing for the U.S. Army. Petman is being built by Boston Dynamics, famous for its alarmingly lifelike BigDog robotic pack mule. Unlike earlier suit-testing robots, which needed external support, Petman will stand - and walk - on his own two feet.

“Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents,” the company promises. “Petman will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions. ”

A sweating robot? I had a flashback to the first Terminator movie:

“The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. These are new. They look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything….”

Petman needs to precisely simulate human movement, and the makers say it will be “the first anthropomorphic robot that moves dynamically like a real person, with natural, agile movement.” The mecha-man is described as “BigDog’s Big Brother.” In fact, his bottom half is simply a pair of BigDog legs.

Very interesting to get a look at the mechanics. I've known about Boston Dynamics' series elastic actuator approach for quite a while. I have been critical of their choice of relatively weak, heavy electric motors. As you can see in the above picture, they had to double-up on the motors to make this thing strong enough. That doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is how small the springs are. If you can't tell, the red things are the springs. And they seem to be only 5 or 6 coils, about 2-3" long. I wonder what max force per actuator is? Very interesting...