Boston Dynamics Shows Their Robots Can Navigate Outside All By Themselves

Thursday, 10 May 2018 - 7:41PM
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Robotics
Thursday, 10 May 2018 - 7:41PM
Boston Dynamics Shows Their Robots Can Navigate Outside All By Themselves
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When it comes to Boston Dynamics, there are generally two camps: those who believe their autonomous robots are adorable, and those who believe they're extremely creepy.

Much of the time, Boston Dynamics manages a fine line between the two, creating robots who garner sympathy from the internet when the researchers hit them with sticks, while still being unsettling enough to inspire an entire episode of Black Mirror in its latest season.

You can see both sides to the robots in a pair of new videos the robotics company released today, showing their Atlas and SpotMini models navigate outside completely autonomously, recognizing and either moving past or leaping over obstacles in their path. See them below - up first is Atlas, their two legged-robot who was knocked around with sticks in their famous/infamous video. Here, he goes out jogging and even hops over logs:



And second is SpotMini, their four-legged robot which served as a model for the fictional killer machines in the Black Mirror episode "Metalhead". It seems less dangerous here, but that's just because it's unarmed and (hopefully) doesn't know how to pick up knives like its "Metalhead" counterpart:



It's impressive progress for both machines, although it's not completely surprising. Atlas has very recently learned how to jump, and as late as last November, it could perform backflips like a pro despite a few fumbles. 

But perhaps more interesting is the video with the bright yellow robot dog, SpotMini, where some of its obstacle avoidance software can be seen as it runs around the Boston Dynamics campus and impressively climbs up and down some stairs. It's a fascinating look into how the robot sees the world as it navigates on its own, using a set of cameras on its front, back, and side.

So, now we know: if the robots ever attack, hiding in the woods won't help. They can manage perfectly well in nature.

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