Monday, March 06, 2006

Robot mule

Via Rocketboom, video of a headless robotic mule that can navigate all kinds of rough terrain.
Kinda reminds me of a few politicos I have heard about.

This imaginative invention, like so many, derives from research to come up with a method to help soldiers carry materiel over rough terrain.

The project is sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who want the robotic pack mule to assist soldiers in terrain too tough for vehicles. Ground-based soldiers often need to carry 40 kilograms of equipment.

Raibert says the latest version of BigDog can handle slopes of 35° – a steeper gradient than one in two. The hydraulics are driven by a two-stroke single-cylinder petrol engine, and it can carry over 40 kg, about 30% of its bodyweight. The robot can follow a simple path on its own, or can be remotely controlled.

LINK to New Scientist article.

It's a wonderful thing, this robot mule. Wonderful illustration of how the inventive mind of man can invent just about anything...given enough money.

This is undoubtedly what happens when you have an administration that considers the Pentagon the answer to all our problems and gives it a $439.3 billion budget to play with -- and that's exclusive of actual war-fighting money (which, for Iraq and Afghanistan, at an estimated $120 billion for the year, will come in supplemental requests to Congress). And remember as well that the fiscal 2007 Pentagon budget does not include the $9.3 billion the Department of Energy will put into nuclear weapons or a host of veterans-care benefits, all of which bring the budget at least close to the $600 billion range. Analyzing the 2006 budget, economist Robert Higgs estimated that all military-related outlays -- that is, the real Pentagon budget -- totaled closer to $840 billion dollars.

LINK to Shark and Awe, an update on how your tax dollars are being spent.

Makes the federal response to a hurricane even more curious than it was.

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