Massachusetts Company Leading the Way in Quadruped Robotics!

You have probably never heard of Boston Dynamics, an engineering firm based in Waltham, but the company is building some of the most cutting-edge robots in the world. Beginning as a spin-off from MIT, the company has been specializing in robots that can walk, run, gallop, climb, and move like animals.  They are perhaps best-known for their record-setting feline-based robot Cheetah, whose development was funded by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a part of the DOD.  Cheetah recently became the fastest “legged” robot in the world, breaking the old MIT-held record of 13.1 mph with a run of 29 mph.  Yes, that’s faster than Usain Bolt, who’s maxed out at 2.78 mph, though slower than real cheetahs, which top out at 60+ mph!  The key to these velocities is Cheetah’s articulating spine, which allows it to extend and contract with each stride–just like the real McCoy.  Below is a video of Cheetah making its record-setting run of 29.3 mph.

Cheetah Births WildCat…But Why?

As you can see, this run was done on a treadmill, and Cheetah was “tethered”–kept centered by a boom-like device, and powered by an offboard hydraulic pump. However, the company is now working on WildCat, a free-running version powered by an onboard two-stroke. Boston Dynamics is apparently aiming for 50 mph over rough terrain. Apparently, having legs could allow a robot to cross ditches and deal with obstacles that wheeled and tracked vehicles cannot. So what’s the end goal of all this? An article in PC Magazine from last year stated the following:

One day, [DARPA] hopes to let Cheetah loose in the natural and man-made environments where defense personnel operate, allowing the robot to contribute to emergency response, humanitarian assistance, and other missions.

“Other missions,” huh? Sounds like we might not be very far from having quadruped war-machines that can operate over the rough terrain of places like Afghanistan, which has battered our Humvees and other “tired” vehicles.


Chinese Restrictions on New Car Purchases Tighten as Citizens Cough, Wheeze

Combatting what some have dubbed the Great Smog of China, the leadership of the Red Nation has announced that it is increasing the number of cities where auto purchases will be restricted. In these cities, only card-carrying members of the Ruling Class will be allowed to purchase cars whenever they’d like. Experts believe this will result in a temporary jump in vehicle sales in impacted areas, but will lead to a long-term decline in domestic auto sales.

Eight cities that are going to start limiting car purchases are Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin and Wuhan. Additional details of the restrictions, such as when they will be implemented, have not yet been released in a language that I can read.

The Fun, Speedy 2014 Volkswagen Passat Rates 24/35 MPG with New Turbo Engine

The new 2014 Volkswagen Passat will be one fun, speedy ride. It will also, despite sporting a turbo engine, be a relatively fuel-efficient little thing. Featuring a new base engine, a 1.8-liter turbo-four deal that churns out 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, the 2014 Passat is rated 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 on the highway, better numbers than of the old Passat, 22/33.

The new Passat realizes this improved efficiency through the use of electro-hydraulic steering and a fuel-friendlier engine. VW will also offer this turbo engine in its 2014 Jetta, Beetle, and Golf.

Kelly Blue Book Breaks Down The Coolest 2013 Cars

The Men and Women of Kelly Blue Book have again helped the consumer pick an affordable and cool car. In this article, the list of the Top 10 coolest affordable cars, made by Kelly blue Book is examined. The cars are all less than 18,000 dollars and are filled with cool and interesting gadgets. Coming in at number one was the Hyundai Veloster, a car with a slick exterior and plenty under the hood. According to the article, we may see more of these affordable cool cars, as the manufacturers are making it easier and easier to purchase them as they can build them cheaply.

Read the full article here:

2.24% APR On Car Loans Through Athol Credit Union

Athol Credit Union offers 2.24% APR on auto loans. Members of the Direct Rewards program can get even lower interest rates. This offer only applies to new cars, and up to 100% of the price of the car is available in the loan. To join the Athol Credit Union, you must live or work in Worcester, Franklin, or Hampshire County.

Learn more here: