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U.S. Military Develops Jumping 'Urban Hopper' Robots

| 8 May 2009 21:31
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What's scarier than robotic death machines? How about robotic death machines that can leap up stairs and dive through windows?

Dubbed "Urban Hopper," the latest robot to come from SquishBot creator Boston Dynamics can leap up to 8 meters in the air -- perfect for clearing fences, and launching itself into enemy-occupied buildings like some kind of mechanical John Woo extra.

Luckily for the human resistance, the Hopper currently lacks the sort of jumping precision that might doom our entire race. "The existing hoppers do not maintain a stable orientation during hops, but tumble randomly," Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spokesman Mark Peterson told New Scientist.

Assuming the military's scientists can teach the Hopper to jump where it ought to, the gadget will be used for "urban reconnaissance and intelligence gathering." However, DARPA also notes that the machine could be outfitted with "a raft of weapons."

Picture this: You're sitting at home, reading the collected works of Vladimir Nabokov when you hear a soft, repetitive "ka-thunk" noise from your lawn. You rise from your recliner, walk cautiously to the window and just as you reach for the blinds a 120-pound steel rabbit smashes through the glass.

Stumbling backwards you trip over an unfortunately placed ottoman. Before you can remark on the Dick Van Dyke-ian implications of the tumble, the metallic intruder swivels towards you, offering only a cheerful "click-ping," before it tears your body to pieces with 214 carefully-aimed depleted uranium rounds.

As you lie there, slowly asphyxiating on the blood seeping into your lungs from dozens of ragged puncture wounds, your final thoughts are of Humbert Humbert. "He may be a monster, but all he ever wanted was someone to love him."

Chilling, no?

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