Vid The next generation of humanoid robots has been unveiled by bot-building Google-stablemate Boston Dynamics. The 'droid boffins have been showing off their latest creation's moves – and its ability to recover from puny human attacks.
The robot is the new version of Atlas, a humanoid robot designed to use human tools and machinery. It is, right now, participating in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Robotics Challenge as a rescue bot. The new build is slightly shorter than the previous version at 5'9", and weighs 180 lbs.
The new Atlas is completely untethered and runs on a built-in battery pack. It uses LIDAR (a technology that measures distance using laser light) and stereo sensors on its head for directions, and can be remotely controlled or preprogrammed for killing Sarah Connor performing certain tasks.
In a video, Atlas is shown leaving the Boston Dynamics building by opening a door and then going for a wander in some woods. The walk demonstrated that, compared to previous models, the new bot is adept at walking over uneven surfaces and handling unstable and slippery ground.
This stability was further demonstrated when an employee tries to knock down Atlas with a hockey stick. The robot staggers, but then stabilizes and returns to an upright position. When it was successfully knocked down, the robot was able to get up again and carry on with its tasks.
All this might not seem like much – after all, most two-year-olds can do the same – but in robotics terms this is very advanced. At the last set of DARPA trials, walking over uneven rubble was impossible for most entrants and even doors posed significant challenges.
So is it time to start worrying about a robot revolution? Not yet, but the progress Google is making in this field does suggest that a lot of jobs currently employing humans are going to be handled by metal scabs in the future. ®