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Darpa to teach robo-puppies to toddle


Darpa is really living up to its reputation as the Pentagon's "mad science" division on this one — they're building autonomous mechanical pooches that can teach themselves how to walk or, more accurately, shelling out a chunk of dough to contractors who will achieve that feat. They've finally realized that handcrafting all of the control parameters for locomoting a priori is not likely to be effective in any reasonable amount of time, due to the minutiae of the millions of tiny calculations required to achieve some of the things we humans tend to do so effortlessly (after a few years of practice), such as keeping balance and avoiding obstacles. So, the 6.6 pound 10.6-inch long "Little Dogs" are going to school themselves in the fine art of locomotion, and we can all sleep a little bit sounder knowing the Defense Department's ranks will soon be swelled with a pack of doggie drones.

Barb Dybwad has been living and breathing the online new media world for the past decade, sporting a career path through web development, professional blogging, virtual team management, business development, and executive leadership. She's currently the head of business development for top tech destinations Engadget, Joystiq, and TUAW at AOL Tech. Previous roles include VP of Content and founding editor at Tecca, Senior Tech Editor at Mashable, Director of Production at Crowd Fusion, Producer and Editor of Obsessable, Producer of the Joystiq network, founder of WoW Insider, Massively and Big Download, Senior Editor of Engadget, and Editor-in-Chief of the Social Software Weblog. Her work has appeared in Forbes,, CNN, ABC News, USA Today, and Yahoo News among others, and she is a regular speaker at industry events focused on topics in the fields of social media, technology, gaming, mobile, and virtual worlds. Barb is a musician, information junkie, traveler, and gamer who enjoys being distracted by funny cats on the internet and following an obscene number of topics in scitech and beyond. She lives in the San Francisco Bay by way of Los Angeles and Ithaca, NY.