(ORDO NEWS) — Many probably expected Boston Dynamics robots to someday transition from fun dance parties to real work. Looks like that day has come.
In the latest video, the Atlas robot hops around a “construction site” doing manual work, scattering tool bags and making a small path for itself to get onto the scaffolding.
It looks very impressive and surprisingly human, and also allows you to imagine for a short time what the work may look like in the future.
“We are expanding new capabilities,” said Atlas controls CEO Ben Stevens.
“Parkour and dancing have been interesting examples of quite extreme locomotion, and we are now trying to develop this research to also perform meaningful manipulation.
It is important for us that the robot can perform these tasks at a certain human speed.
Humans are very good at these tasks, so it required some pretty major updates to the control software.”
Stevens is right, of course – if companies want to invest in robotics to speed up workflow, there’s no point in having a humanoid robot that walks at half human speed and falls over when it sees something unfamiliar.
Boston Dynamics has shown itself to be far ahead in this area, demonstrating the ability to self-regulate and even the ability to open doors.
However, previous demonstrations of Spot and Atlas were pre-programmed movements that do not require awareness of their surroundings, whereas building a robot that is aware and responsive to its environment is significantly more difficult.
As the company explains, Atlas must keep its balance in the face of obstacles of varying sizes and weights by grabbing and pushing them in ways that would normally require human intervention.
“We use all the force available in almost every joint of the robot,” Robin Dates, software engineer at Atlas, said in a statement.
“This trick is at the limit of what the robot can do.”
If you are a builder, you have nothing to worry about in the near future. The Atlas robot is purely a research platform and is not for sale. However, this is another big step towards humanoid robots that mimic human actions.
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