A Google subsidiary has taken a large step, quite literally, in trying to make humanoid robots as realistic as possible. Its creation, an Atlas robot, was able to walk unaided across rough terrain, a vast improvement over recent failures at the Robot Olympics.
If you go out in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise – that would be sound advice for residents around the Boston area. However, don’t expect to find anything remotely as cuddly or cute as a teddy bear’s picnic, because a hulking terminator-like robot has been spotted roaming around the area.
This is no hunter killer, well not yet anyway, it is a project by Boston Dynamics, a Google subsidiary, who specialize in robot design. Its creators have now let it out of the lab and into the open.
“We are interested in getting this robot out into the world. Out in the world is just a completely different challenge than in the lab. You can’t predict what it is going to be like,” said Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics.
The Atlas robot, as it is known, is certainly an imposing figure, it stands 1.88cm (6’2 feet) and weighs 150kg (330lb). However, plans for a terminator style invasion maybe on hold for the moment, as the robots certainly don’t have the movement of a T-800 or a T-1000 as seen in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
The team is currently working to make sure the robot will be able to walk and run without its power tether, something it can’t do at the moment.
“We are making pretty good progress to make sure that it has mobility that is in shooting range of yours. I am not saying that it can do everything that you can do, but if we keep pushing it, we will get there,” Raibert added.
This is good progress in comparison to how Boston Dynamics’ robots faired at the recent Robo-Olympics, where the humanoids tended to spend more time on their backsides than on their feet.
The Atlas robot has also been trying to master the Japanese martial art of karate. In November, it managed to mimic the ‘Crane Kick’ which was made famous by Ralph Macchio in the 1984 blockbuster, the Karate Kid.
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