New robot from Google shows off human-like qualities
Boston Dynamics — the Google-owned engineering company dedicated to creating robots that move like animals — has shown off a updated version of its human-like Atlas design with a new video.
Standing 175cm tall and weighing 82kg, the new Atlas has long arms, short legs, a tiny cylindrical head and is designed to operate outdoors as well as inside buildings.
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The new video shows Atlas walking confidently past other members of its robotic family — including WildCat and BigDog — and heading straight out the door before wading like a terrifying idiot through a stretch of snow.
Boston Dynamics is renowned online for its quirky videos of new robots that don’t seem quite ready to handle the tasks they’re attempting — stumbling like babies over rough terrain or being shoved and kicked by researchers until they fall flat on their metal face.
The uneven nature of the robots definitely makes the videos palatable – without something to laugh and point at most of Boston’s creations would be more than a little scary – but it’s also the most impressive aspect of the machines.
Staying upright while navigating uneven terrain and adjusting for unexpected complications is an extraordinarily involved process, requiring constant adjustment that’s difficult to come by without a brain and central nervous system.
Mastering this will be required for most tasks mobile robots will be used for, be it search and rescue, military applications or travelling back through time to track and assassinate humans.
What makes Boston’s robots so interesting to watch is that, when faced with an obstacle or a swift kick, they tend to react in an eerily similar way to a dizzy human or quadrupedal animal.