A robot dog pulled a 3-ton plane, and we're not scared at all

Seriously, we should stop kicking the robots.

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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
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Shelby Brown
2 min read

The latest robot dog is bizarrely strong.

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Feats of strength never get old -- and they are always freaky.

Just over a month after a pack of SpotMini robot dogs managed to pull a huge truck, researchers with the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) tested the strength of a different robot dog: the HyQReal. 

The HyQReal pulled a three-ton Piaggio P180 Avanti passenger airplane almost 33 feet last week at the Genova Airport in Italy, researchers said Thursday in a statement.

We can agree that three tons is a lot. The videos of people kicking over robot dogs and watching them get back up now seem like a terrible idea. Not only that, but the HyQReal is a relatively large robot, especially compared with MIT's Mini Cheetah. HyQReal is 4 feet, 4 inches (1.3 meters) long and just under 3 feet (90 centimeters) tall. It weighs about 287 pounds (130 kilograms).

"Pulling a plane allowed us to demonstrate the robot's strength, power-autonomy and the optimized design," Claudio Semini, project leader at IIT's Dynamic Legged Systems lab, said in a statement. "We wanted to achieve something that has never been done before, and we succeeded last week." 

Researchers at the institute hope to design the HyQReal to be more durable so it can be used in multiple situations like disaster response, agriculture and inspections.

"We are not targeting the first response yet, but support in the aftermath of a disaster. Bringing sensors into unsafe areas, manipulating and moving objects, opening doors, etc.," Semini said in an email. 

Semini said that improvements in hardware and software are bringing the deployment of such robots closer. The HyQReal is a joint design from IIT and Moog, a designer and manufacturer of control components and systems.

Originally published May 23 at 6:35 a.m. PT.
Update, 6:46 a.m.: Adds response and video from IIT.