Google just bought the company behind this creepy galloping robot

December 14, 2013

(Boston Dynamics)

The giant four-legged robots George Lucas created for the opening battle of "The Empire Strikes Back" were fictional. But three decades later, a company called Boston Dynamics has made great strides toward making them a reality. With funding from DARPA, the military's advanced research agency, Boston Dynamics has created a series of robots that are capable of walking, running and climbing on many kinds of terrain.

On Friday, Google told the New York Times that it had completed its acquisition of the robotics firm.

Watching the company's robots in actions is an amazing sight. Here's one of its newer robots, known as Wild Cat, which is capable of running 16 miles per hour on flat terrain:

An older robot, known as Big Dog, can walk up and down hills and keep its balance on snow and ice. In a promotional video, someone shoves Big Dog to the side. The robot staggers sideways but manages to maintain its balance and continue on its route.

We don't know what Google CEO Larry Page plans to do with his latest toys, but we imagine "build an invincible robot army" is somewhere on the long-term business plan.

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Timothy B. Lee · December 13, 2013