Google’s Atlas robot takes a forest hike

18 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Humanoid robot walks through a forest like it’s no big thing.

With apologies to the late great poet, there is no other way to react to the sight of a six-foot-tall robot gingerly making its way through dense woods with only a power cable to sustain it.Unlike famous movie robots such as C-3PO, Atlas is shown connected to a power tether during its walk in the woods, although Boston Dynamics says that it is working on a untethered version of the bot. By now, we have seen robots manage man-made obstacle courses, leap over hurdles like gazelles and fight controlled fires, but we’ve rarely seen them out in the wild. Boston Dynamic’s bipedal Atlas robot (a good number of the robots in the recent DARPA competition were based on it), however, has now followed in the footsteps of its big brother, the aptly-named Big Dog, which has also handled Mother Nature’s terrain.

According to Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert, who presented the short video at the recent FAB11 conference in Boston, the robot is well equipped to move more quickly in order to keep stabilized on uneven surfaces. Boston Dynamics, one of almost a dozen robot companies now owned by Google (or is it Alphabet?), is making steady progress in its quest to produce robots that can walk alongside humans and, in cases of danger, perhaps take their place. “We’re making pretty good progress on mobility, sort of within shooting range of yours.

I’m not saying it can do everything you can do, but you can imagine, if we keep pushing, we’ll get there,” Raibert said in the video. “Obviously, people do find it creepy. About a third of the 10,000 or so responses we have to the BigDog videos on YouTube are from people who are scared, who think that the robots are coming for them. But the ingredient that affects us most strongly is a sense of pride that we’ve been able to come so close to what makes people and animals animate, to make something so lifelike.”

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