The robot creators at Boston Dynamics haven’t been idle. They have unveiled a new version of PETMAN, a bipedal, walking robot that can simulate human movement (and even do push-ups).
Boston Dynamics has been experimenting with biomimetic robots for the last few years. Early efforts resulted in mechanical creatures such as BigDog, AlphaDog and the torso-less version of PETMAN, unveiled in 2010. PETMAN was originally only a set of walking legs. Now he has a body and arms.
The new PETMAN is definitely deep in the “uncanny valley” –- something that looks alternately fascinating and disturbing. (It bears no small resemblance to the Terminator). But this isn’t an attempt at building robot warriors, despite being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Instead, the idea is to test equipment such as chemical and biohazard suits without having to ask for volunteers. Since the robot can mimic movement more realistically it can tell testers whether a suit (or other piece of equipment) works well before they try it out on real soldiers.
Image: Boston Dynamics