Intelligent Machines

The Latest Boston Dynamics Creation Escapes the Lab, Roams the Snowy Woods

In an amazing video, the newest generation of the humanoid Atlas walks on uneven terrain, squats to pick up boxes, and puts up with abuse from its human creators.

Boston Dynamics, the Google-owned company known for its jaw-droppingly agile robots, is at it again.

The latest version of the Atlas robot is smaller, lighter, and looks far more rugged than its ancestor, which was widely used at the DARPA Robotics Challenge last year. The video shows the humanoid recognizing and walking through doors (something Atlas could already do with human help), taking a stroll through the woods alongside a human creator, and squatting to pick up boxes.

The new Atlas has added the ability to put up with a lot of abuse. When pushed in the chest, it staggers backward and quickly recovers its balance. Walking through snowy woods, it stumbles on uneven terrain but keeps going. And most impressively, when shoved hard from behind, the robot falls over, but then quickly pops back up. Only a few months ago, that kind of resiliency was almost unheard of.

 (Read more: “A Robotic Walk in the Woods,” “A Transformer Wins DARPA’s $2 Million Robotics Challenge,” “Why Robots and Humans Struggled with DARPA’s Challenge,” “The Robots Running This Way”)

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