bigdog2.gifWere the robotics experts at BostonDynamics inspired by the 1983 Electronic Arts game M.U.L.E.? BostonDynamics admits its 4-legged robot is "the size of a large dog or small mule," but opted to call the DARPA-funded workbot BigDog. Coincidentally, the function of BigDog is nearly identical to M.U.L.E.'s Multiple Use Labor Element machine that helps interstellar colonists survive on alien soil in the turn-based multiplayer game.

While the M.U.L.E. is pure fiction, the development of BostonDynamics' BigDog is funded by the real-life DARPA Defense Sciences Office in the USA, and according to New Scientist, was designed to help soldiers carry heavy loads "in terrain too tough for vehicles." The robot is powered by a gas engine, can haul 120 lbs, and trots at 3.3 mph. While its terrestrial uses seem obvious, the roboteers at BostonDynamics were clearly aiming for the stars. BigDog today, Multiple Use Labor Element tomorrow?