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Robotic “Dog” from USC Shows Impressive Pathfinding Over Unfamiliar Terrain… and Makes Us Think It’s Alive

Filed under Found on the Web

This is described as a prototype robotic dog – but let’s get this out of the way right at the start. The shape and texture of its robotic body makes it look like a huge beetle, which seems a bit creepy.

That impression fades, though, as you watch it move. Its four legs are constructed like a dog’s legs and its movement is captivating. As the robot explores rough and unfamiliar terrain it applies its experience of similar situations and tries to find its way, sometimes slipping and recovering. Those moments are the ones that really make it seem alive and you find yourself cheering it on.

In fact the way it pauses and thinks about what to do next give the impression of awareness. It’s very interesting to watch and quite a technical achievement – just imagine yourself trying to train a machine to behave this way. Its interactions with a changing environment are especially, well, awesome.

But like most who’ve viewed the demonstration I find myself thinking less about how smart these researchers are, and more about the way we react to the machine in motion and why we perceive it as an autonomous creature. I like the idea of something like this, with Roomba-like instructions to explore and patrol, making way for me on the stairs and showing up next to my bed in the morning.

[tags]robotics, robot, motion, quadruped, dog, bug, usc, bring me my coffee[/tags]

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