Petman robot soldier shows off with push-ups

Boston Dynamics' Petman humanoid soldier looks pretty confident strutting its stuff on the treadmill.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Petman bears an uncanny resemblance to the Terminator and is also into fitness. Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

Science fact often follows science fiction. Hence, the U.S. Army is funding development of a Terminator-style robot soldier.

Boston Dynamics has released new video of its Petman robot and its resemblance to the T-800 is uncanny.

The vid below shows the anthropomorphic bot (aka the Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) walking on a treadmill, doing squats, and pumping out push-ups without breaking a sweat. All it needs is a metal skull head and a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

The maker of the notorious BigDog and AlphaDog quadruped bots says Petman is just "an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing used by the U.S. Army."

The droid, scheduled for delivery next year, is supposed to go through various maneuvers wearing a suit and taking heavy doses of chemical warfare agents. Roughly 6 feet tall, it will also mimic human physiology, generating heat and sweating for added realism.

Petman is designed to improve on previous machines that tested chemical weapons suits and is billed as "the first anthropomorphic robot that moves dynamically like a real person."

It's not the first machine with that advertising. Petman seems like Honda's P series prototypes of the 1990s that preceded the development of Asimo. Honda's mechatronic mascot, however, was designed to help out in a human environment, not a military lab, and thus has hands and AI capabilities.

Petman may be used in applications other than suit-testing, according to Boston Dynamics President Marc Raibert.

"There are all sorts of things robots like Petman could be used for," Raibert was quoted as saying by IEEE Spectrum. "Any place that has been designed for human access, mobility, or manipulation skills.

"Places like the Fukushima reactors could be accessed by Petman-like robots (or AlphaDogs), without requiring any human exposure to hazardous materials. Perhaps firefighting inside of buildings or facilities designed for human access, like on board ships designed for human crews."

Or it could always wear a muscle suit and become a movie star.