Boston Dynamics’ upright-and-walking-on-two-legs Atlas robot is a slightly terrifying while simultaneously an amazing piece of technology.
In this latest episode of How We’re Making Robots That Will Be Able to Hunt You Down Wherever You Go, our old friend the Atlas humanoid robot has learned a scary new trick: walking over pretty much any unexpected obstacle.
We’ve seen the Atlas show off its walking and balancing skills before, but in this new demonstration it navigates its way over random, unknown objects of varying sizes. You know, kinda like building rubble a human might hide under after Skynet has already laid waste to the city.
It’s getting better and better
The important aspect of this demo is the fact that Atlas had no preexisting knowledge of the terrain, so it isn’t simply walking a set course, it’s actually figuring out how to handle new, foreign objects in its path and adjusting its weight and balance with each step much like a human would.
According to IHMC (Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition) Robotics, the company developing the control algorithms for the Boston Dynamics-created robot, Atlas uses upper body angular momentum to execute its delicate balancing act.
Also, if you look closely, at one point in the new video you can see that the robot is sporting an Amazon logo. The ecommerce company has previously sponsored the IHMC team, but looking at the footage, it’s hard not to imagine the Atlas robot taking over the job of your local UPS or FedEx worker when it comes to delivering your weekly Amazon Prime goodies.
Sure, delivery robot is better than Terminator hunter killer duty, but the looming robot jobpocalypse might be just as damaging to humans once robots like Atlas are finally finished with their walking and balancing training and hit the streets.