Boston Dynamics

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Walking, jumping, running robots like Big Dog and Atlas are equal parts amazing and terrifying. And look how they’ve grown: MIT’s Cheetah bot, once a tethered machine on a treadmill, can now bound across an open field unchained.

A few makers of the sophisticated moving robots that are starting to pop up in public more and more are going to be sharing their wisdom with the masses. Starting today, MIT’s online course on moving robots is open for business.More →

Up until nine months ago, Google had acquired just four companies in the Boston area (or five, if you count the company’s “acquisition” of Biz Stone/Genius Labs). One of those was the huge pickup of ITA Software, of course, but little else apparently enthralled Google in Boston during the company’s first decade-and-a-half.

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Odds are good that no one at yesterday’s “Computing the Future” symposium at MIT, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of computer science and artificial intelligence research at the school, imagined they’d be watching a black-and-white video clip of Julia Child deftly slicing potatoes. But Matt Mason of Carnegie Mellon University showed it to make a point: technology is still far behind humans when it comes to perceiving and interacting with the world. Mason and other speakers who focused on the robotics field emphasized how many problems remain to be solved. Perhaps the biggest laugh of yesterday morning’s session came during another video clip, when the AlphaDog robot from Boston Dynamics, above, was pushed by an employee trying to test its stability — and promptly rolled over and smashed into a parked car. “That’s the new guy’s car,” another employee noted.More →