On Videos of Wobots Frowing Fings

DynamicManipulation2Last weekend I was surfing the internet as I usually do, reading the news that flows through my RSS feed. I happened onto a story about Google’s purchase of Boston Dynamics, the Massachusetts-based robotics company responsible for Big Dog. The article had a bunch of YouTube videos embedded in it of the various new members of Google’s new robot army so I started watching them while the boys were napping. Zachary woke up from his nap as I was scrolling through so I grabbed him and invited him to join me. I didn’t he’d stay long but he sat on my lap glued to the screen as we watched every single video. Adam woke up later and joined as well.

There were 10 or 12 videos of the various robots that they currently have – one that jumps like a flea, one that slaps its way through mud, a couple that walk like humans, and of course, Big Dog, the quadruped robot that made the company famous. Big Dog is a four-legged robot designed to carry things around. It can move over various terrain and even keep its balance when it slips or it is kicked. There is a variation of Big Dog with an arm on its front that can be used to pick up objects and throw them; that’s where the boys had their fun.

It was one of the first videos that we watched, just over a minute long. Big Dog picks up a cinderblock and throws it over its back. The video shows it again in slow motion before cutting to another scene of another cinder block throw. The boys absolutely loved it, cackling with glee each time the cinderblock smashed into pieces on the floor. Zach wailed lake a mad man and then asked to see it again. We watched it over and over and over. For the next week all we ever heard about was watching “Wobots frowing fings!” They have other favorite Big Dog videos as well now, including Big Dog Evolution (a.k.a. “the dancing one”) and PETMAN (a.k.a. “Wobot exercising”). I can safely say that the boys are now obsessed with robots, which is really just science, and that’s never a bad thing.

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