With its sights on robotic pack mules to help warfighter in operations, DARPA initiated a program that yielded BigDog. The robot’s on-board computer controls locomotion, processes sensors, and handles communications with the user. BigDog’s control system keeps it balanced, manages locomotion on a wide variety of terrain, and does navigation. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a gyroscope, LIDAR, and a stereo vision system. Other sensors focus on the internal state of BigDog, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine functions, battery charge, and others. In demonstrations, BigDog ran at 10 kmh, climbed slopes up to 35 degrees, walked across rubble, climbed muddy hiking trails, walked in snow and water, and carried up to 150kg loads.
Development of the original BigDog robot was funded by DARPA. Work to add a manipulator and do dynamic manipulation was funded by the Army Research Laboratory's RCTA program.
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