Atlas Robot - The Next Generation
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Wednesday, 24 February 2016

An impressive video released by Boston Dynamics, showcases the capabilities of the new generation of the Atlas robots. Untethered at last, Atlas is now confident not only in its ability to move but also to recover from a fall.

boston dynamics dedicated to the science and art of how things move. - 2016-02-24 10.41.39


The video begins by showing the robot walking on snow and navigating alone through the woods, mirroring the human way of walking. It's remarkable watching it recalibrating its side stepping, like humans do with their muscles,when losing its foothold because of the snow and harsh terrain.



The scenery changes,and Atlas is now  burdened with the task of lifting packages and placing them on shelves,a task that comfortably accomplishes. Scenes like that render the proposition that robots will soon replace human labour, starting out with  blue-collar jobs,  plausible.

But the best part is kept for later on,where some 'evil' human ,a member of the testing personnel, 'harasses' the robot by forcing it into adapting to new task requirements as a result of his interaction with it.

What happens is that in the way of the robot trying to lift a package, a  human intervenes by using a hockey stick and gives the robot a hard time by pushing the package off its hands and kicking it further away so to confuse it even more.

Surprisingly the robot manages to keep track of the target, follows it, and finally picks it up no matter how many times the operator tries to outsmart it.



Finally, the moment of the 'wow' factor comes when Atlas is forcefully pushed, falling literally on its face.No problem as  the robot is equipped with state of the art joints that coordinate as it gets to its feet as soon as possible, continuing its walk as if nothing had happened.

The other striking difference with this video is the lack of an umbilical cord or restraining harness. It is not only Atlas that seems confident of its abilities - the lack of tethers shows that the confidence extends to Boston Dynamics.




For accomplishing these feats, Atlas is equipped with a wide range of new sensors, hydraulics and software that help it adapt to prevailing conditions such as the kind of the terrain and the existence of obstacles. 

Reading between the lines, this video once more emphasises that robots are here to stay and that their performance improves day by day.This  on one hand will improve everyone's life, but on the other, pose unprecedented challenges to the fundamental structures of our human civilization like our global economic system.

Going further ahead, enabling robots to think for themselves as the advancements in AI already have, will pose even greater dilemmas as analysed in Autonomous Robot Weaponry - The Debate


More Information

Boston Dynamics YouTube Channel

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 February 2016 )