Google Inc has developed a humanoid, life-like robot that walks and runs like one of us. And they’ve recently posted a video showing their creation going for a walk in the woods.
Dubbed “Atlas”, the robot has a height of 6 foot 2 inches and a weight of 330 pounds. It walks on two legs, and has no trouble whatsoever running through the woods without falling or bumping into obstacles. In fact, the robot’s movements are so smooth and flawless that some have said it resembles a human Olympic athlete.
This shows just how much progress the developers have made, as video footage from earlier this year showed it stumbling clumsily during a “Robot Olympics”, and as expected, mockery ensued.
Atlas was built by Google Inc’s very own Boston Dynamics lab. It’s a hydraulic-powered robot made out of aluminum, titanium and steel.
Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics founder, first showed footage of Atlas earlier this month, at the Fab Lab Conference and Symposium that took place in Cambridge, during one of the robotics panels, and gave a statement saying that he and his colleagues are “interested in getting this robot out in the [real] world”.
He went on to add that “Out in the world is just a totally different challenge than in the lab. You can’t predict what it’s going to be like”. But he did admit the current takes are not entirely taking place “out in the world” as the robot is seen connected to a power tether.
But while the forest tests have given positive results, Raibert and his colleagues are actively working on an even better version of Atlas and improvements are on their way as they want to make “a version that doesn’t have” a connection to a power tether.
He stressed that all kinds of unpredictable stuff happens out there in the real world, and that he and his colleagues are making fairly good progress on making sure the robot has the mobility it needs to successfully navigate these unpredictable occurrences, and that its mobility is not that far off from that of a human’s.
Raibert also admitted that Atlas can’t yet do everything a human can, but the team behind the projects is committed to pushing its development further, and improving it, and everyone is convinced that they will get there eventually.
The robot developers are currently focusing on giving Atlas better balance and a bigger range of dynamic movements, in an attempt to get it to work in the same way that people and animals do – moving quickly to keep themselves well balanced.
In order to collect data that may offer them clues on what they should improve, the developers occasionally kick the robot in order to see how it responds.
But it’s worth mentioning that even though Atlas had a rough start, it is without a doubt one of the most advanced robots ever created.
Other tests have shown that the robot can carry a fire hose, and even drive a car. This is thanks to its sophisticated software, which was created by field experts from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Interaction.
The robot’s agility and balance have been tested once before by Raibert and his colleagues by recreating the famous “crane stance” that most people know from The Karate Kid.