Google dumping Boston Dynamics


#1

[Read the post]


#2

Shall we have a whip-round to get some cash to buy them for @shaddack?


#3

Hard to blame Google. Boston Dynamics’ signature technological achievement, the “BigDog” project, is over a decade old now and has yet to find any practical applications. They do interesting work but not much that seems likely to spur amazing tech revolutions in the foreseeable future.


#4

Nobody in practical visual effects could use this?


#5

My impression was that they were developing BigDog and LittleDog for military applications but the military never actually adopted either one, leaving their purpose ambiguous.


#6

#7

Google Executives Dismayed After Boston Dynamics Demos Marketable Product Options


#8

Right, because in practice they are expensive toys that would suck in a combat environment. If you needed a robotic all-terrain cargo transporter you’d do much better just building something that ran on treads. It would be cheaper, sturdier, quieter, more reliable and a helluva lot easier to fix.

“Cool” and “high tech” doesn’t mean “useful.”


#9

Maybe Google is just upset at their repeated violence towards robots.


#10

One of the armed services (Marines, perhaps?) tested them out, and discovered that BigDog was too noisy, and LittleDog carried too little cargo to justify the cost…


#11

They were receiving funding from DARPA, so the company’s future should be safe if they’re able to continue their research for military purposes even if their proposed current models didn’t get adopted. It’s shortsighted of Google to dump them as Boston Dynamics is doing some incredible robotics research on their various platforms. They might not be able to have a product out within the next couple of years but does it matter? Look at how long Google has been working on their driverless tech, i bet it’d been longer than a couple of years and i don’t see how it should be any different for Boston Dynamics.

Either way i think they’ll be fine without Google.


#12

It was the Marines. It was loud and the power management is an issue. Battery tech for these kinds of applications is about 2-4 years away from becoming practical, considering all the new material and nano-material tech that has come up lately.


#13

Presumably Amazon will buy them and use them for same day deliveries.


#14

And it has been for many, many years now.

But even if they solved the battery issue what can BigDog really accomplish that a simpler, cheaper and more reliable treaded vehicle can’t? What can a humanoid robot accomplish that a human or non-humanoid machine can’t do better? It’s cool tech and I hope it continues to develop just for the pure geek entertainment value, but that doesn’t make any of it practical.


#15

Fantastic idea! They will need to be armed, of course, to dissuade pilfering.


#16

Three Laws, man.


#17

Drag my gold-plated chariot around the city, while adoring onlookers shower me in flowers.


#18

all the usual things that robots do better than people: going out into dirty and/or dangerous situations where you’d be foolish to send a person, and which are disturbingly common in the military. Minefields, IEDs, chemical decon, casualty recovery, forward resupply, load carrying, mechanical handling of heavy stores (like artillery ammunition). Yeah; tracks are proven tech and something like the Abrams is incredible cross country, but short … uh … wheelbase (is that the right word?) tracks on a light vehicle aren’t that great at crossing complex terrain. A stepping machine would handle rubble and broken or steep ground better than short tracks.


#19

They’ll be more robust to dogs than postmen, though. Nothing in the three laws about those.


#20

Weirdly, I support the idea of @shaddack as a robot overlord.