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Big Dog, Wild Cat And Cheetah: Meet Google's Brand New Robotic Zoo

Tyler Durden's picture


Big Dog, Wild Cat, Cheetah... all names one wouldn't associate with Google (if anything perhaps feline-named Apple operating systems). And yet, the company that is best know for its internet prowess and having more data about the search habits and private interests of each and every computer user than the NSA could ever dream of, is ever more aggressively moving into the animal kingdom. The robotic one that is.

After last weekend, 60 Minutes ran an amusing infomercial of Amazon's latest very forward multiple boosting product development with its delivery drones, Google refuses to lag behind in the futurism department and promptly acquired Boston Dynamics, the creator of the world's fastest running robot, as well as various other realistic animal-like machines supplied to the US military. As the FT reports, "The internet company’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics is latest in a string of robotics acquisitions in a mysterious initiative led by former Android chief Andy Rubin."

Just what robotic critters will carry Google's logo?

Among the creations to crawl, jump and gallop from its labs are Big Dog, a four-legged robot that can clamber over uneven terrain such as snowy forests, even when assailed by kicks from its makers, and Cheetah, which claims to hold the record for the fastest legged robot in the world, running at more than 29 miles per hour.


Many of Boston Dynamics’ robots have been developed with funding from the US Department of Defense’s research unit, Darpa, making Google a military contractor, at least for now.


Google’s ultimate objective for its growing collection of robots remains unclear but Mr Rubin’s project sits among its so-called “moonshot” ventures, such as self-driving cars and balloons to provide internet connectivity to remote regions.


His other acquisitions include Bot & Dolly, a design studio that makes an automated camera system used in movies such as Gravity, and Schaft, a spin-off from the University of Tokyo whose bipedal robots boast much stronger “muscles” than other bots.


Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, formerly of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A much-viewed YouTube video shows Boston Dynamics’ four-legged WildCat robot “galloping” and “bounding” around a car park at speeds of 16 miles per hour, before – perhaps reassuringly – falling to its knees on ice.

The response has so far been one of mild amusement: "Which company that owns all our private data and has the motto “Don’t Be Evil” just bought a military robotics firm?” tweeted Joe Randazzo, creative director at Adult Swim, a comedy and satire channel. "‘Don’t be evil,’ he cried, while being chased by the robot hounds," quipped Andy Baio, a tech entrepreneur and founder of the XOXO conference, in a tweet.

One can only hope that in borrowing some robotic folklore from Isaac Asimov, the prime directive of Google's robotic farm will indeed be "don't be evil" or else the amusement will be short-lived.

A quick summary of Google's latest robotic product portfolio:


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Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:02 | 4250270 Divided States ...
Divided States of America's picture

Google is Skynet

Judgment day will be a reality after all.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:05 | 4250284 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

So long as people get up in the morning and go to work on this shit in the way they do, by the means they do, for the people and entities they do... nothing will ever get better.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:11 | 4250308 vxpatel
vxpatel's picture

eat less meat, buy local/used products...bank with a credit union....poof....the entire charade collapses!

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:20 | 4250331 Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Learn process and formula for distillation of own vodka!

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:33 | 4250357 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

"Updated March 2010"

That was more than 3-1/2 years ago.  Wonder where the technology is at today.

Prime directive has probably already been implemented:  You may not harm an employee of the Federal Government or by inaction allow an employee of the Federal Government to be harmed.  Everyone else is fair game, though.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:46 | 4250401 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture




Sounds just like the hound from the firehouse in Farenheit 451

The mechanical hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live
in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back
in a dark corner of the firehouse.


Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:48 | 4250419 Svendblaaskaeg
Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:06 | 4250446 Stackers
Stackers's picture

So Androids do dream of robot sheep ?

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:22 | 4250573 StandardDeviant
StandardDeviant's picture

I'm thinking of the Rat Thing from Neal Stephenson's brilliant Snow Crash.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 15:06 | 4251210 NaN
NaN's picture

Indeed, but Rat Thing was nuke powered, no stinking chain saw motor.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:44 | 4250413 BKbroiler
BKbroiler's picture

Our only advantage is that it will always be cheaper to produce people than these damn things.  and more fun.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:48 | 4250426 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

"Our only advantage is that it will always be cheaper to produce people than these damn things."

You don't have kids, do you?

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 20:41 | 4252378 Sokhmate
Sokhmate's picture

He did say produce. Literally, it is cheaper.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:58 | 4250469 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Our "only" advantage is one the robots will never have: a soul.

The created can never be greater than the creator.

I am Chumbawamba.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 16:20 | 4251515 Hobbleknee
Hobbleknee's picture

I created my kids, and they are better than me.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 14:23 | 4251060 vxpatel
vxpatel's picture

roll your own cigarettes, grow your own weed, brew your own beer...

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 20:34 | 4252359 Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Mine for own copper...

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:04 | 4250287 Pladizow
Pladizow's picture

Unlike the majority of the US military, these RoboPets will have no problem in opening fire upon crowds of US Citizens!

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:47 | 4250425 blabam
blabam's picture

You Americans need to get that US military GOOD! mantra out of your head. History shows they willl kill you. They don't need no stinking robots. 

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:13 | 4250539 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

Yeah, because talking to the Nazis got everything sorted out just fine.

"... Peace in Our Time".   

or some shit like that.

All those old liver spotted men in wheelchairs who weren't allowed to go see the memorial erected to them say "You're welcome".

peacnik douche ingrate.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:21 | 4250582 blabam
blabam's picture

Talking to me? 

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:55 | 4250732 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

Yeah.  You and all the other idiots who would label the US Armed forces as "killers".

i'm going to get the fuck beat out of me on this one by the usual idiots, but hey, it's fight club, right?  So here goes.

Never, never in the fucking history of man has there been an Army that willingly obeys orders to tie their own hands with "rules of engagement" when confronting an enemy like the US Military.  Willingly constrains themselves at great personal risk for the simple effect of killing fewer civilians.  It's always been slash and burn, razed to the ground.  Perhaps the French soldier, serving under Napoleon, who believed he was fighting to liberate Europe from the chains of aristocracy... but that failed, too.  More on this, later.

So your big idea about war is some Hollywoodesque squaring of champions?  One quick shot with a pistol at 200 yards by a special operations ninja bulked out homo and it's over?  No blood, no screaming, no puddles of shit and gore?  Performed by "brain dead" killers?  War is not at all like your fucking video games, son.  

Thes one that always strikes me as the height of hypocrisy:  You have some asshole who in one breath will becry the injustices of "racism", the "tyranny of poverty" and extoll us all to "fight world hunger" but in the next moment castigates and judges twenty something million veterans as brain dead, testoserone fueled slavering killers.  It's possible that it's ignorance that starts it, but then it's taken and used to manipulate by those that seek power. 

Now I'm going to paraphrase a bit from Steven Ambrose, you know, the warmonger author.  He wrote that anywhere in 1945 the US rifle squad in Europe meant blankets, food, medical care, safety.  Instead of rape, lootings, beatings.  It's the caliber of people that make that squad that define it's actions.  They'll kill when they have to, but they bring justice and safety to those who seek it.

So, about that aristocracy.  Well, here, today, it suits them to demonize and fracture by giving you handy little catch phrases and cliches such as "brain dead killer", "military intelligence" for you to seed and repeat and minimize the contributions of humble people of low station who are in fact better human beings than they are.   That galls the would be masters. All their money, influence and power still leaves them short of character and integrity when compared to simple, unwashed lesser being from the uncultured places.

I'll leave you with the illustrious John Kerry, who in his testimonies talked of rape, pillage, slaughter the likes not seen since Genghis Khan.  He lied.  He lied simply to gain political points. Because he is a lesser human, loving only himself and power. Just like untold others in politics, banking, hollywood.

And dumb fucks like you, unknowingly or not, help keep them in power with your mindless fucking parroting.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 13:03 | 4250753 blueRidgeBoy
blueRidgeBoy's picture

I'll up-vote that

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 14:24 | 4251070 vxpatel
vxpatel's picture

patriotic dip shit...why are we in all these wars to begin with? Also, have you heard of carpet bombing?

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 15:14 | 4251251 scaleindependent
scaleindependent's picture

One name: Smedley Butler.

More decorated than you. More trustworthy.

War is a rackett, despite all of your windbagging.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 15:35 | 4251325 A. Magnus
A. Magnus's picture

Armies EXIST to rob the people at gunpoint for the bankers, you ignorant fucking meat puppet. All your spoonfed, elitist assmunching bullshit propaganda does NOTHING to change that fundamental fact.

What your banker ballsack licking DOES do is show the rest of us what a fucking big government stool pigeon motherfucker and tool you really are...

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 15:57 | 4251432 vxpatel
vxpatel's picture


Mon, 12/16/2013 - 16:23 | 4251535 Hobbleknee
Hobbleknee's picture

I wish I had a million accounts, so I could plus one you a million times.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:49 | 4250421 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

"Google is Skynet"


"By the time Skynet became self-aware it had spread into millions of computer servers across the planet.  Ordinary computers in office buildings, dorm rooms, everywhere.  It was software in cyberspace.  There was no system core.  It could not be shut down."




Mon, 12/16/2013 - 13:55 | 4250947 Freddie
Freddie's picture

They are SkyNet.  Bot if I hit that thing with .308 or 12 gauge double O - it is going down. Sadly - guns frighten me.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 10:59 | 4250271 steelrules
steelrules's picture

Nothing that my .338 wouldn't drop from 1/2 a mile away.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:06 | 4250288 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

I thinking a well-placed wad of shaving cream over its "eyes" would do the trick. 

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:08 | 4250295 Crawdaddy
Crawdaddy's picture

MeatTrapper would have these things gutted and on the grill 30 minutes after they were deployed.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 13:31 | 4250852 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

AnAnonymous would have them wokked and served to the luncheon crowd at his JKC (Just Killed Cat) Chinese citizenism fastfood franchise.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:13 | 4250309 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

"Nothing that my .338 wouldn't drop from 1/2 a mile away."

Just wait until they invent a weapon that can hit you from out of the sky. It's coming. One of these days...

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:27 | 4250336 steelrules
steelrules's picture

When push comes to shove it's not going to be pretty for either side, but I would go to my grave knowing that in the end, the side liberty and justice will prevail.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:25 | 4250348 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

That makes one of us.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:51 | 4250428 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

And just how do you know that liberty and justice will prevail ?  The whole of human history from cave men until today says that you are wrong.  America was an aberration.  It's time has come and gone.

The reset to normal human existence has begun.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 14:56 | 4251179 steelrules
steelrules's picture

Because there's 300 million firearms in the US, because fully 1/2 of the police and military will either take up arms and stand with the people or just go home to defend their families, and that my friend is precisely why the criminals in charge know they need robots and drones. 

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:02 | 4250272 kralizec
kralizec's picture

Just all part of building up SkyNet's ability, nothing to see here, move along!

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:02 | 4250273 Dear Infinity
Dear Infinity's picture

Why doesn't Ray Kurzweil give this a try on for size? Forget that human suit, we all know you want to be a robot, Ray. Robot Ray.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:37 | 4250645 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Actually, trans-humanism is THE endpoint of his plan. He hopes to achieve immortality by living long enough to replace his entire biological structure with a manufactured one.

I bet Google is already working on the cloud structure required to emulate the massive parallel processing power of the brain.

Spooky. "Hive Mind," indeed!

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:00 | 4250275 giggler321
giggler321's picture

What's with the hornets nest buzzing I can hear?  That isn't gonna creep up on anyone with those bees following it everywhere.  They've been designing it since 1992?  Time for a new job eh?

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:47 | 4250423 css1971
css1971's picture

The only sane way to generate the power requred to run one of these is from petroleum base fuels. So they have an on board generator.

Sounds like a small 2 stroke; 50cc or less.


Mon, 12/16/2013 - 12:14 | 4250551 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

That makes for a significant heat signature.  Useful to know...

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:01 | 4250276 BandGap
BandGap's picture

Well, they can't exactly sneak up on you.

If this is being shown to us, they are at least 2 generations ahead. Trust me.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:04 | 4250282 Tanzhosen
Tanzhosen's picture

Very excited to see what Google can do with Boston Dynamics.  Those guys have made some just phenomenal machines, the quadroped balancing algorithms are particularly impressive.  It's a shame ZH can only see the imagined dark side :(

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:07 | 4250291 BandGap
BandGap's picture

I'm open to any side. What is your point?

What uses do these have in the civilian world?

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:09 | 4250302 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Off the top of my head:


- Shooting projectiles at people.
- Injuring, but not killing people.
- Killing people.
- Being a robotic pet.
- Being a robotic killing pet.

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:19 | 4250334 replaceme
replaceme's picture

+1 for the robotic killing pet ref

I have a standing bet that these will be on battlefields inside of (lucky) 7 years.  Sharks with lasers, throw me a freekin' bone here.

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