The Uncanny Valley kicks you in the ass: freaky-weird disembodied robolegs

Paul Raven @ 30-10-2009

A brief scan of the intertubes shows that I’m pretty much the last person to see this, but just in case you haven’t seen it either here’s footage of Petman, a walking robot prototype from Boston Dynamics [via grinding.be, and loads of other places]:

That’s just… hell, I don’t know what it is, I don’t have a word for it. Creepy, awesome, strangely intimidating? All of the above? Anyway, Boston Dynamics (whose name makes me feel like I should be in an episode of Fringe) are the people who brought you BigDog, the strangely pathetic headless canine pack-mule robot which has been bouncing in and out of the geek quarter of the blogosphere since around 2006. According to Technology Review, Petman will be used for research into protective clothing for military personnel, hence its inbuilt ability to sweat in response to environmental changes.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; we don’t even have robots smart enough to fetch our breakfast yet, but already they’ve designed one with the ability to sweat. I can’t help but feel there’s something deeply and disappointingly wrong with this development curve.


It’s the way you walk…

Tom James @ 05-09-2008

walkingResearchers from Scotland and Belgium have identified a link between a woman’s stride and orgasmic ability:

The results showed that the appropriately trained sexologists were able to correctly infer vaginal orgasm through watching the way the women walked over 80 percent of the time. Further analysis revealed that the sum of stride length and vertebral rotation was greater for the vaginally orgasmic women. “This could reflect the free, unblocked energetic flow from the legs through the pelvis to the spine,” the authors note.

Another advance in the onward march of science…

In slightly more directly sfnal news scientists have discovered an upper limit to the mass of black holes:

…these gigantic black holes, which accumulate mass by sucking in matter from neighboring gas, dust and stars, seem unable to grow beyond this limit regardless of where – and when – they appear in the universe.

This may affect some of the long term predictions of the future of the universe, as expounded in Stephen Baxter‘s Deep Future, which is well worth a read.

[both stories from Physorg][image from pizzodisevo on flickr]


Incredible walking robot ‘Big Dog’

Tomas Martin @ 04-04-2008


Check out this incredible video of Boston Dynamics’ robot ‘Big Dog’. The quadruped robot stumbles on ice, maneuvers through snow, climbs over blocks and recovers after being kicked. ‘Big Dog’ is being developed in association with DARPA for use as an Army pack horse that doesn’t tire.

The robot has a certain ‘AT-AT’ quality, doesn’t it? It’s amazing how creepily lifelike its movements are. If you had to trek across the desert or Antarctic, would you like a ‘Big Dog’ around carrying your gear?

[via Futurist.com and Open The Future, Youtube video by Boston Dynamics]