The Defense Advanced Research Project Authority (DARPA) Learning Locomotion project seeks to create algorithms that help multi-legged platforms learn to walk in varied terrain. DARPA will be handing out a series of $600,000-$800,000 research grants to teach 6.6-pound, 10-inch "Little Dogs" to walk.
During the 15-month first phase of the Learning Locomotion project, Darpa wants the pooches to be able to travel 0.6 of an inch per second, and scale obstacles about 2.5 inches tall. For Phase II, those numbers should go up to approximately 3.8 inches and 5.7 inches, respectively.
Readers interested in an sf robot dog might want to check out the slamhound from Count Zero by William Gibson:
They sent a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. (Read more about the slamhound)
(From Robot Puppy)
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)