Atlas, “an agile, anthropomorphic robot” designed by Boston Dynamics was recently taken out of the lab and tested in the real world. The video is nothing short of amazing.
One part fascinating, one part scary, the video of the human-like robot stumbling through the woods is a fascinating glimpse into the not so distant future.
The Atlas is the company’s successor to two previous models which mimicked a dog and cheetah respectively.
Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert said that the test run in the woods was an opportunity to evaluate the humanoid’s balance and ability to respond to a unique environment. “Out in the world is just a totally different challenge than in the lab,” Raibert said at the Fab 11 conference earlier this month in Cambridge, Mass.
The video of Atlas gained popularity after being revealed for the first time by Boston Dynamics at the conference. The company had shared videos of their quadruped robots before, but never of their humanoids.
Making the video scary, aside from the human look, is that the majority of the funding received for these projects comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research arm of the U.S. military.
This agency’s goal is to develop robots that can replace humans for dangerous projects in disaster or war-like situations.
Although the robot isn’t fit for fieldwork yet, the results and progress are promising. In the video, Atlas is still seen connected to a power source by a large cord. During the conference, Raibert admitted there is still much to be accomplished, but reassured people that “you can imagine if we keep pushing, we’ll get there.”
The whole purpose of creating humanoid robots is to use them in place of humans for tasks that are either too monotonous or too dangerous. Atlas may not seem like much, but each humanoid is one critical step closer to reaching this future.
Skip to about the 40 second mark for the in-forest action!