Space & Innovation

Bullied and Shoved Humanoid Robot Stays Upright

Boston Dynamics taps into sublimated engineer aggression to show off its new Atlas bot. Continue reading →

In terms of robot karma, Boston Dynamics is really asking for it.

The Massachusetts company posted a new video this week in which engineers trip, shove, tease and otherwise bully the latest iteration of their decidedly creepy humanoid robot named Atlas.

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The new video follows an earlier clip in which Boston Dynamics staffers kick around around a robotic canine named Spot. I don't know if it's some kind of sublimated engineer aggression or what, but the robot abuse is oddly disturbing to watch.

Of course, all the shoving and poking has a purpose - the interactions are intended to demonstrate the system's ability to react to unanticipated events.

The company's new version of the Atlas robot has some impressive onboard systems that keep it upright. The bipedal bot can move unassisted over rough terrain - using multiple sensors in all four limbs to maintain its center of gravity - and even stand itself up after falling prone.

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The video also shows Atlas picking up 10-pound boxes and putting them on shelves, with impressive precision of movement.

Watching the new Atlas definitely conjures the uncanny valley effect as we see the human-like twisting and torquing. The new Atlas is smaller and more nimble than previous versions that we've seen, and now carries its own onboard power supply.

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Boston Dynamics, which was acquired by Google in 2013, has been developing various bipedal and quadrupedal robots since the 1990s. Check out their rogue's gallery to see what else they've been up to.

click to play video

One last note: In the final scene of the new video, Atlas is shown making his way out of the building through an unlocked door. Let's hope it's not mad at us, species-wise.

Atlas resembles humanoid robots we know from fiction, such as The Terminator.