The Singularity is Near: Petman

by on November 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm in Science, Web/Tech | Permalink

From the folks that brought you BigDog, a robot that can walk, run and do push-ups. Notice especially how the robot is able to stand on one foot when it shifts its weight.

Hat tip: Kottke.

1 TallDave November 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm

But can it clean my house?

2 Alex Tabarrok November 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm


3 TallDave November 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Well, the Stanford AI class does have quite a few participants.

Learned some fascinating things so far, such as the A* search. Sadly, my 70+ hour workweeks mean I will probably drop into the basic version rather than the advanced.

And now I should really get back to coding.

4 JWatts November 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm

It’s going to need actual hands first.

5 Andrew' November 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm

While you sleep, eat, and rest, PETMAN is hitting the gym waiting for his shot.

6 juan November 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Still externally powered. That’s a huge barrier, developing a compact, quiet power source for mobile robots.

7 Gabriel E November 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm


8 Geoff Olynyk November 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I’m fascinated by how energy storage is often the limiting factor for all kinds of portable or autonomous devices. Robots, UAVs, and electric cars, obviously, but also things like cell phones, as they become more powerful – if I unplug my HTC Sensation at 7 am, it’s dead by 6 pm with moderate use. Apple doesn’t offer a “4G” (HSPA+ or 3GPP LTE) version of the iPhone because they know that the energy consumption of those radios leads to short battery life, which negatively impacts the user experience.

If I recall correctly, BigDog had a gasoline or diesel generator built into it. The energy density of fossil fuels is just so incredible…

9 Curt Doolittle November 2, 2011 at 7:48 am

It is theoretically possible to create a battery with the energy density of gasoline. Practical implementation and production is still a long way off. But that’s the single most meaningful technological achievement on the visible horizon. But we can’t have light autonomous robots until we have high energy density batteries.

10 TallDave November 2, 2011 at 11:27 am

I don’t know, humans manage to get work done without batteries.

11 dustmouse November 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm

We refuel several times a day….

12 James E. Miller November 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Does anyone else not notice the irony that this video was posted on the blog used by a man who wrote “The Great Stagnation?” Though I haven’t read Cowen’s book (it’s on the list), does he actually discuss the singularity?

13 Eamon November 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Yeah, he does.

14 Dan November 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I’ll believe it when a robot can toss salad and felch.

15 Nikki November 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Doesn’t singularity mean intellectual superiority over human beings rather than the ability to mimic human beings’ movements? It doesn’t require a human-like shape at all, and it isn’t any nearer with this cool toy than it was without.

16 wockawockawocka November 2, 2011 at 1:15 am

kill it.

17 PrometheeFeu November 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm

A robot that can do push-ups is scary. There is nothing stopping it from doing push-ups for years in a row making him the strongest being on earth…

18 JBD November 3, 2011 at 1:45 am

Somebody needs to mash this with Stayin’ Alive. Well you can tell by the way I pound my walk I’m a robot man, my heart a clock.

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