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LittleDog Learns Several Terrifying New Tricks

Illustration for article titled LittleDog Learns Several Terrifying New Tricks

The last we checked in with LittleDog, the smaller, scrappier version of BigDog and frequent resident of my worst nightmares, we took some solace in the fact that he wasn't quite as nimble as his predecessor. Now: terrifyingly nimble!

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Yes, it's true. LittleDog, which is being developed at USC as part of Darpa's robot locomotion initiative, will now chase you across rocky terrain, over crevices, and up stairs of various heights. Any weaknesses we might've perceived in the initial videos of LittleDog have vanished and with them our hopes of ever resisting the RoboDog takeover.

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This newest version of LittleDog is even programmed to teach itself to be more efficient (read: deadly), possessing the ability to evaluate the difference between a good foothold and a bad one and adjusting its steps accordingly. While this thing's getting smarter all the time, my dumb human programming remains the same: when you see a RoboDog, turn around and put one foot in front of the other, as quickly as possible. [YouTube]

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DISCUSSION

No, LittleDog is still from Boston Dynamics, but "is used at MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, USC, Univ. Pennsylvania and IHMC as part of a DARPA-funded program on advanced robotics." It looks like USC got one and wrote lots of software for it that chooses foot placement rather than BigDog's reacting to foot slippage. (Which means the military has several and skipped all pussyfooting to go straight to facial recognition and kill-Kill-KILL).

LittleDog has no eyes! USC must be using an external camera and supercomputer to view and model the terrain.