The Robotics Company That Could Change the World
Sometime in the future, robots will be embedded within our homes, institutions and every facet of society. We have already seen robots being used to help people at home and assist with serving food, but one company is making huge strides in the world of robotics with its incredibly advanced creations that are becoming a fundamental part of military organisations across the globe.
The company is known as Boston Dynamics, which is now owned by Google Inc., but was originally set up by Marc Raibert, a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Marc Raibert and his colleagues founded the company in 1992 and have been making huge advances since the company’s inception. Boston Dynamics’ ground-breaking work includes a range of complex robots that manoeuvre like animals: with agility, speed and impressive balance recovery.
Their most prized creation so far comes in the form of Cheetah, the world’s fastest legged robot to date. It reaches a speed of over 29mph in one video demonstration where the nimble quadruped can be seen running on a high-speed treadmill in the laboratory, whilst remaining tethered:
Another member of Boston Dynamics’ robot family is known as BigDog, which is the most advanced rough-terrain robot in the world. Built with an impressive control system, it carries substantial loads and can walk, climb and run with its four legs that mimic those of a large dog. BigDog is able to manage difficult terrain due to its complex sensors which encompass ground contact and stereo vision.
Just this year Boston Dynamics’ introduced Spot, a quadruped that is lighter, smaller and faster than its big brother. Spot has demonstrated impressive balance which is essential for Spot’s role as a resilient robot that will need to overcome difficult terrain.
There has been much discussion about the social and ethical implications of these robots. Certainly some of these implications are positive as robots can be used to replace humans in challenging situations, or environments that involve dangerous chemicals or machinery. In terms of fighting epidemics, robots could also become useful in helping doctors diagnose patients remotely, although there is still plenty of development to come before robots can really make a significant impact on medical and military operations.
Of course, there are some negative implications – how much can we trust robots to carry out essential tasks and recognise important information that cannot be measured by computers? And how much could they be trusted in military scenarios where civilian safety is a priority? As technology progresses we are naturally finding more ways for robots to function within our society, but the question remains on whether or not these robots will mostly benefit us or cause a rupture in the very foundations of human interaction.