Introducing: Oscar

"Those in the audience with a green pass please leave via the rear exit"

Introducing: Oscar
It was a cover-up for the real achievement: The automated assembly line, heavily articulated arms with multiple liquid metal and resin extruders, robotic skates, not a human in sight.

As you may know I find the robot dog situation a tad concerning, we spoke about it before.

I think it's because they have such a low center of gravity.

With a bi-pedaled robot you can trip it up, setup some sort of trap, tip it over.

You can't do that with a quadruped.

I remember when I was in the British Army reserves we did an exercise with a dog unit. The instructor was going through all the misconceptions about 'fighting' with dogs:

  • Pull its front legs apart. Nope, they sometimes sleep like that.
  • Pull its jaws open. Don't be silly now.
  • Stick your finger up its bum. I mean, that thought isn't going to cross your mind in a crunch.

Turns out that the reason cats and dogs are still walking around on four legs and not two is because evolution has singled them out as reasonably good predators.

They are nothing next to us of course.

In the previous article we told a story; if I may, we'll rejoin that story midway through with the release of the Mk2.

Entering story telling mode ...

I'm about to walk on stage and I feel nervous.

It's weird, I've given speeches to audiences of thousand's but today I feel particularly awkward. I take a peak at the stage camera's.

I see the huge back screen display with the new Quadradyne company logo on it, it makes me shudder but that's not it ...

"On in five James, get ready!"

Ah yes, I see the issue.

The front two rows of the audience are crammed with military staff officers.

The proverbial brass. I recognize the distinctive red lapels adorning the collars of the uniform. Colonels and above.

"You're up!"

Music starts blaring. Lights, drama. Raucous applause from the audience.

"Thank-you everybody and welcome to the launch of our very first general purpose quadrupedal robot Oscar!"

More raucous applause.

"Without further adieu, let's greet man's new best friend!"

An Oscar unit trots gleefully onto the stage to a standing ovation.

The pinnacle of applied robotics engineering including the net experience of several of the world's leading companies acquired by Quadradyne.

"Beautiful isn't he, the perfect unison of military might and civilian effort..."

I rattle off a list of specs, 120 KPH top speed, type 6 Li-po battery packs lasting for 6-7 hours between charges, jaws drop.

How are they able to achieve that speed and charge length with current battery tech? They are thinking. We plant the question in their mind to distract from the real achievement, the fully autonomous assembly line.

"The secret sauce" I say with a well rehearsed grin "is in the rear leg's"

In Oscar, we had done away with all of the articulating servos in the rear leg's and this thing had just a single actuator in each, the sole purpose of such was to lift what would be a limp appendage to the next transition in the movement.

The magic happened with the material that the leg was made out of. After passing a minor electrical current through the metal it would turn from rigid to soft. We could control the density of the substance and the process used no energy at all.

We only cared that the front legs would effectively 'catch' the robot as it bounded forwards. AI took care of learning the remaining movement. Now all of this required single digit millisecond level precision, we couldn't even achieve that with the ultra-high density SOC we used in Fuzzypup. So we added compute to each limb, all linked together using a fiber CAN.

After a bunch more marketing blabber the stage lighting dimmed.

"This is where I'm afraid I'm going to ask those in the audience with a green pass to leave via the rear exit's"

Hand wringing on the front row.

This is the part that the important people in the itchy looking dress uniforms had been waiting for ... I mean, what even is that, hessian?


I'm looking directly at the brass in the front row's now. The ushers had ensured no media stooges were hiding under the seats.

I hate this.

"As you all know Oscar is funded predominantly through a five eyes agreement and is a veritable defense powerhouse."

Nod's all round, we all know how the bread is buttered.

"Part of that power is the ensure the general public has trust in the machine's they see routinely on the street's of our safe cities."

"To that end the military and civilian models are indistinguishable apart from livery. To your disappointment there will be no shoulder mounted cannon's or missile launcher's"

The sound of laughter fills the room. I found myself pondering briefly the human aptitude for celebrating it's own destruction.

"As you know, as part of an EU directive we were instructed to make the device emit an audible signal upon target acquisition. So we turned that into a feature"

Oscar's breach strategy was noisy and messy, but deadly and effective. It didn't jump over walls, it jumped through them.

"Oscar, soft target Colonel Strange for me if you would"

The device emits a deafening noise: Beep-bop, boop, boop, booooooooooop

The head shed jump out of their seats, Col. Strange has already been briefed. He sits there with a knowing grin plastered across his face.

What has happened is the robot has taken a three dimensional sample of the entire building and area of about 250 meters surrounding it:

  • First off it emits a range finder at a super sonic frequency to gather high resolution data on the immediate surroundings. This happens before the audible frequencies.
  • Secondly it emits a high frequency beep capable of penetrating concrete up to around a meter thick.
  • Third the active bass radiators on the front of the unit emit a low frequency boop so loud that if it were turned up to maximum it would perforate the human eardrum. The purpose is to gather information on material density.

Some of the Colonel's mouths are hanging open, they clearly haven't read the confidential briefing packet.

"The robot then follows through with directional MRI, this data supplements the map composed of LiDAR, traditional sonic and optical readings."

The natural human instinct is to take cover behind something solid. Unfortunately the fragments of that something act like shrapnel.

"The robot is not only capable of detecting targets hidden in a proverbial bank vault, but it can tell you their age, ethnicity, gender and can even detect medical anomalies in the target and use them to it's advantage"

Standing round of applause from the military brass, that bit wasn't in the briefing packet. I wave my hands in a calming fashion.

"But that's not all" I tell them with a convincing command of keen.

"Notice the lack of articulation in Oscars neck" I gesture at the unit.

"As mentioned, the robot is capable of reaching speeds of 120KPH. As not mentioned, it can do so with a runway of 10 meters. The robot is capable of penetrating concrete half a meter thick with blunt force alone."

"Oscar can go from target acquisition to attack in less that 15 seconds, a time limit mandated by the European Union."

"If the target unit is in a brick dwelling with surrounding guard walls we are talking ingress into the compound in less than 30 seconds, the programmed target will have been acquired and terminated in around 120 seconds."

I went on to illustrate with graphic accompanying footage.

"When deployed in trial's against a high value target with highly trained guard's in a fortified compound, the unit caused such a state of shock and disarray that they were shooting at each other in panic."

It's true. I watched it happen real-time with the defense secretary, it was over in three and a half minutes. The tea was still warm in our cups. Not that anyone was drinking their tea during that particular horror show.

"The guard's didn't even see what caused the mess."

I mean, basically they heard the deafening sonic cue's, the sound of rubble traveling at velocity and saw some detached body parts catching air-time.

That was a single Oscar unit deployed and evac'd using a ducted heavy lift drone.

It was terrifying to behold let alone experience.


This is not what I signed up for.

But I will take the six figure monthly paycheck's, buy myself an island, build myself a bunker with ten meter thick concrete wall's and lock myself away from the ensuing mess.

Perhaps deservedly, I would never live to see the day.