It was only a matter of time before robots got a 21st century upgrade. No longer do they fumble around on quadrupedal legs or struggle with more dexterous tasks. Now, these robots can grab objects, traverse uneven terrain on two legs, and now, even leap up to dangerously tall heights.
We all knew this was coming; we just didn’t expect it to come so soon.
Watching Boston Dynamics’ bipedal Atlas in action is downright scary when you realize these hulking pieces of metal and electronics are catching up to the capabilities of the most physically-fit human beings. The robots’ control system coordinates arm, torso, and leg movement to increase the body’s manipulation and coordination (just like a person’s brain). This whole-body manipulation lets the robot do a variety of things at once; it can walk while opening doors, carry objects up to 11kg and transport them, and adjust itself when it is bullied by its human masters.
The hardware used in Atlas is constructed via 3D printing, while the limbs are hydraulically actuated and use sensors located throughout its body to balance itself. LIDAR and stereo sensors lodged in its noggin are used to avoid obstacles while Atlas is in motion. The version in the video above stands at around 5’9” tall and weighs 180 lbs.
A recent update on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube channel shows the robot can now jump different heights and even SOMERSAULT before landing gracefully – which is something not every person can do.
While Atlas won’t be joining the Olympics or doing parkour in urban areas anytime soon, the coordination shown by the robot outclasses a lot of clumsy people (myself included). Atlas will most likely not be available for commercial release (not everyone is ready to welcome a new species into society just yet), but it sure is a big leap for robotics.