The headless robot you don't want to meet on the battlefield [video]

Summary:Boston Dynamics' latest robot, Petman, looks like a real-life version of The Terminator. It was developed to more realistically test soldier gear. It's also terrifying.

We all know that The Terminator is a science fiction film, but we may not all know is that humanoid robots made of metal exist in real life, and they're being developed for the war zone.

Wired's Danger Room blog highlights Boston Dynamics' latest development, Petman, a terrifying piece of technology that walks toward you in a mechanical march that is sure to give you the creeps.

Don't believe me? See for yourself:

If the company's name sounds familiar, it's because we wrote about its BigDog quadruped robot back in March. That robot was designed to carry gear for overloaded U.S. soldiers.

In the span of only a few months, the company has engineered itself right up to the top of the Animal Kingdom.

The "Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin" -- which to be fair, was developed over many years -- walks on two legs. It has arms. It has a red light in place of a head. It weighs 180 lbs. (You might say it's the skinny version of Fox's Cleatus football robot.) It is the first anthropomorphic robot that moves dynamically like a real person.

Why a man-like robot? To simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions (such as under attack by chemical agents), according to the company. The thing even sweats.

Yes. It sweats.

Boston Dynamics worked with the Midwest Research Institute (now MRIGlobal), Measurement Technologies Northwest, Oak Ridge National Lab, Smith Carter CUH2A and HHI Corporation on the device, which is intended for use by the U.S. Army.

An effective military tool? If the element of surprise counts for anything, absolutely.

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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