Watch: Boston Dynamics Bullies the Next-Generation Atlas Robot

Wednesday, 24 February 2016 - 10:24AM
Robotics
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 - 10:24AM
Watch: Boston Dynamics Bullies the Next-Generation Atlas Robot
Boston Dynamics' clumsy robot Atlas is all grown up, and to celebrate its remarkable advancement, the company made a video that proves why robots will someday want to kill us all:



The last time we checked in with Atlas, it was still attached to an external power source and was just learning to walk and navigate on its own. Atlas: The Next Generation shows a marked improvement, as it's not only sleeker overall, but it's battery-powered and its bipedal movements are much, much closer to a human's.

Opening quote
"It's definitely kind of jaw dropping," UC Berkeley robotics professor Ken Goldberg told Wired. "They've really smoothed out a lot of the motion."
Closing quote

The new Atlas is 5'9" and 180 pounds, which is about a head shorter than Atlas 1.0. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated, meaning that it uses fluid power in its motors. It is built to navigate across both indoor and outdoor terrain using stereo sensors in its head as well as LIDAR, a surveying technology that measures distance from obstacles by shining laser lights on them. 

It also has sensors in its body and legs in order to maintain balance, which it does very, very well. The researchers seem like bullies when they push the poor robot in the video (and when they play that mean game of keep-away), but the torment has a purpose, as it allows them to show off the robot's groundbreaking ability to maintain balance when its center of gravity is pushed.

Opening quote
"When something sudden and fairly impactful happens to the robot, we call that an impulse, and that's very difficult for a system to respond to," said Goldberg.
Closing quote

That being said, this video still looks like something robots would play in a human history museum with the caption: "the moment we decided to wipe this petty species off the planet."

Opening quote
"It definitely triggered the uncanny valley response," said Goldberg. "I mean, most of us probably had the same reaction when it got pushed around: We expected it to turn around and blast that guy with a laser beam."
Closing quote
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Robotics

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