You might not be looking forward to a post-armageddon world, but Boston Dynamics and DARPA seem to be preparing for it with the newest version of PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin).
More Man Than Machine?
Over the years, we have watched PETMAN go through his various stages of evolution - from surprising, to creepy, and finally downright disturbing.
PETMAN began as a pair of legs, morphed later into an headless android, and now dons a metallic face - although this newest enhancement isn’t going to do much to put the population at ease when he’s sporting the ’dystopian uniform’: a chem-resistant camo suit and ominous, dark gas mask.
(Why would a robot need a gas mask anyway?)
Boston Dynamics is building the bipedal PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The firm’s been putting the previously headless PETMAN robot through its paces for the last several years, teaching it to do push-ups, walk, stretch, squat, and right itself when given a stout shove. PETMAN even perspires and regulates the temperature under its clothes to more closely simulate use by human soldiers.
Though at first glance PETMAN appears to be braced by guy wires, it is self-balancing and only wired externally to draw power. Each new video shows off a more polished bot with a wider range of tricks
This isn’t even my final form!
The illusion of full human is not complete, as PETMAN’s jerky and hesitant movements betray him. However, there’s little doubt that DARPA and Boston Dynamics will eventually create a seamless blend of movement, posture, physical appearance, and abilities in PETMAN that won’t just make an onlooker believe he’s a human - they’ll believe he’s superhuman.
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