The automated pushover
She's no fun, she fell right over.
Marc Raiberts, chief executive of Boston Dynamics, has admitted tipping a toddler in his quest to probe how humans balance. Raiberts told the BBC: "I have video of pushing on my daughter when she was one year old, knocking her over, getting some grief. She was teetering and tottering and learning to balance and I just wanted …
I'd think a properly-equipped "Spot" would be great for police or firefighters. Then again, maybe the cost is too high or there are limitations to the robots I don't know about that would prevent such use.
Still, for cops who sometimes have to check a building for a possible gun-toting nut or firefighters who must check a burning buildings for possible victims trapped inside, I'd think a robot scout would be invaluable.
"fires tend to cause all sorts of problems for flying machines - the convection currents are pretty wild."
Why not just say fires tend to cause all sorts of problems for machines, period? If it isn't the convection currents, it's the uncertain footing (no matter the conveyance: leg, wheel, or track) combined with the distinct risk of stuff collapsing on it.
Just don't give it any weapons, otherwise US police will use it to kill people. In fact, they're probably try even if it doesn't have weapons.
I'd like to hear how he said: "I have video of pushing on my daughter when she was one year old". Was there a pause or verbal stumble around the word on? Was he about to say what he "pushed on" his daughter, but thought better of it? "...pushing <redacted> on my daughter" is how I read it. Am I just being too picky about his grammar?
IIRC the mistake they made was to power it with a small but noisy two stroke engine, and the Marines decided that something that gave its position away worse than an M1A1 tank was probably not the best means of transport for covert ops.
It helps to understand the military mind. There is a story that a demonstration of the first proximity fuse caused the device to light a lamp and visiting brass were totally unimpressed. Someone with a clue then modified the demo so the device set off an explosive charge, whereupon said brass got very interested indeed. If BD had gone to the expense of, say, a Stirling engine, they might have had more success.
The first BigDog versions needed very high levels of energy over a duration that could simply not be reached by battery at the time (or currently). A sterling engine might come closer, but is problematic in it's own right. It could certainly have been more quiet even with an IC engine.
There's a section in his Baby Meets World where Nicholas Day talks to some people who study toddler kinematics, mostly at a lab they've created for that purpose. They set up obstacle courses for toddlers over foam pits and observe the techniques the kids use to get through them. From Day's description it sounds like good fun for all, and it's apparently produced substantial research into how children learn to walk and balance.
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