LAWBI #73: Ooh, Robot!

Boston Dynamics makes robots.

Not, like, improbable, fantastical, sci-fi robots. Like, real, functional, practical robots. Robots that, sooner or later, are going to start getting shit done.

You might have seen videos online of the robots the company develops for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and other interested parties. They’re terrifying metal-and-rubber works of animated techno-punk art, brought to life through an unknowable alchemy of cutting-edge engineering, computer science and about a dozen other disciplines.

If you haven’t seen them, just think of the fleshless final-reel killer from the first Terminator movie, without a head and stalking you on all fours. Or an armor-clad spider with fewer legs and about a trillion times the body mass.

Yeah, like that.

Last week, Boston Dynamics debuted its latest creation, a four-legged nightmare machine dubbed the WildCat. Designed for all sorts of high-risk duties from firefighting and disaster recovery to military applications, the WildCat carries its own power supply, and lopes at nearly 30 miles per hour in astonishingly organic movements patterned after those of a cheetah.

At rest, however, WildCat doesn’t look like a cheetah. Standing awkwardly — at what, two meters? — in a sort of half-crouch, it looks like a bomb that hasn’t gone off, or maybe like the results of one that has. It’s ugly and dangerous-looking.

Which is going to make it sort of awkward and humiliating when people eventually start trying to have sex with it.

Read the rest at Creative Loafing  

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