Editor’s opinion: watching the evolution of the Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics is likely to cause one of two feelings: surprise at how the machine is becoming more and more like a human in its abilities that can benefit the world, or horror when we look at the first stage of a machine that could, at best, take away jobs, and at worst, enslave us all. In any case, the company’s new video is impressive.
The latest demo video showcasing Atlas’ talents illustrates how far the robot has come, and the potential for its practical use. The two-legged machine could barely walk when it first arrived. By 2017, he was doing parkour and backflips. A year later, Atlas was jogging, jumping over logs and jumping from one 40-centimeter step to another, using his legs, arms and torso to control jumps and balance. In 2019, he switched to full-fledged gymnastics.
As is the case with some of the company’s other robots, the practical application of Atlas has long raised questions. The answers to them are given in the latest Atlas demo video from Boston Dynamics, in which new hand grips, first seen in a Super Bowl commercial, allow a robot to help a (fake) builder.
Watching Atlas take a 2×8 and use it to create a bridge before moving through the woods while carrying a set of tools is pretty amazing. The robot can also toss a bag to a worker by jumping 180 degrees, completing its display with a 540-degree multi-axis flip, which the project engineers called a “sick trick,” which is much more. more advanced than the parkour he had previously demonstrated.
We probably shouldn’t worry about whole construction sites filled with Atlas robots yet: it still makes a lot of mistakes that are cut out of these videos. Atlas Controls chief Ben Stevens said researchers are still “far away” from creating humanoid robots that could regularly do dirty and dangerous work in the real world.
Currently, Boston Dynamics sells only two models of robots: Stretch, used in warehouses to move boxes; and Spot, which is used for various tasks, including surveillance and mapping. With this latest video, Atlas seems to be slowly moving towards finding his ideal profession. Fortunately, Boston Dynamics had previously asked people not to use its robots as weapons.