Robotic Dogs Are The Pets Of Our Future

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It’s a nice thought to think our dogs could actually walk themselves someday, so we could stay in bed a little longer and not have to wake up at the crack of dawn to drag them down the street to do their business. (Luckily, and well, not so luckily, my 15-year-old dachshund is blind so walking’s not really an option—I just have to open the back door.) Or perhaps having a robotic dog walker would be nice, like this robot-dog-duo:

Not only would the thing walk itself, it would probably be much easier to teach it (or program it) sit, stay and paw. Sounds like the perfect pet.

The four-legged robot, named StarIETH, is a quadruped with a tethered quadcopter, sort of resembling Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog (although its choppy movements and second-rate components fall short of the pedigree’s—but who doesn’t love mutts?). The duo moves along as a twosome while the robot enables the flying machine to land safely on its back.

But beyond being an entertaining video, this dog-bot actually serves a much greater purpose.

The research venture, headed by the Legged Robots Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zurich, demonstrates how robotic dogs can serve in hazardous conditions. Robotic dogs can autonomously walk, climb and run over challenging terrain and are designed to take serious blows—something our beloved pets will never be capable of handling, thanks to the limitations of anatomy.

Even the US Marines are adopting robotic dogs as pets and sending them into the battlefield. The newest member to the family is Spot, a 160 pound robot built by Boston Dynamics.

The four-legged robot is hydraulically actuated with a sensor on its head that aids in navigation and is controlled by a laptop-connected controller, which a hidden operator can use up to 1,600 feet away.

Spot himself isn’t destined for the real-life battlefield, although he trialed simulated combat scenes—The robo-dog was sent into a building ahead of the humans to scope out potential dangers, a task that the military might’ve used real, live dogs for previously. Rather, the US Marines hope to use Spot to help find new ways of using robots in combat.

So keep your eyes out for these things walking themselves down the street (or on the battlefield) because these are the pets of our future.

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