We all know that Google is very interested in building robots. We also know that they have, thus far, built quite the little robot army.
One of their more advanced (read: out there) robots, is the humanoid robot ATLAS. And recently, ATLAS went for a walk in the woods – and it was all kinds of creepy.
ATLAS‘ main purpose of design is to eventually a rescue robot. This means that the ATLAS robot will be able to fit into human-scale places which are too dangerous for real humans to be in. Thus, he acts as somewhat of an ultra human.
Naturally, being a humanoid robot that needs to be able to fit in to human-scale places, ATLAS needs to be able to move like a human. This is one of the biggest objectives Google has with ATLAS; to make him move like a human.
This of course requires the engineers to focus on human movements which can be interpreted into the robot, and things such as balance is absolutely key.
ATLAS is a product of Boston Dynamics – a robotics company that was bought by (then) Google X in 2013. Now, it‘s parent/owner company is of course Alphabet.
Boston Dynamics is the same company responsible for the “˜Big Dog‘ robot – a four-legged robot that has made quite a bit of waves in the robotics world.
Now, for the first time ever, ATLAS has experienced the outside world, free from the confinements of his lab.
The ATLAS team sent the awkward-looking robot into the woods to see how well he would cope with a natural, rough, outdoor terrain. While he was walking by himself essentially, the robot was still attached by means of a power cord plugged into his back – almost like ATLAS was kind of on a leash.
The team at Boston Dynamics said that eventually, ATLAS will be able to walk freely without the power cord.
As to how good ATLAS coped with the outdoor terrain? One could say good, although he did look a little weird to be honest; stumbling around like he had one too many margaritas before trying to find his way home.
In the end it all looks really, really creepy and almost makes me wonder if we should take Elon Musk‘s concerns about artificial intelligence more seriously.
Because if I came across an awkward looking, stumbling robot whilst on a hike in the woods, I would run – and run fast.
Check out the video below: