Google's Boston Dynamics Takes Its Humanoid Robot For A Jog In The Forest


Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics has taken its famous rescue robot ATLAS for its first proper run outside and the results are, well they're scarily impressive.

The last real look we got at humanoid robots was during DARPA's Robotics Challenge of which the outcome was...well lets just say that a robot apocalypse wasn't expected anytime soon.

ATLAS has undergone a series of balancing tests to make it more resilient to rough terrain.

It appears as though our brazen confidence is now being tested however as Google's (or should we say Alphabet's) robotics company have been hard at work making sure that ATLAS won't be falling over again any time soon.

The results are -- as you can see -- remarkable, and while ATLAS still needs his leash the simple fact is that there is a robot running through a forest that normally would prove to be the downfall of most machines.

Boston Dynamics aren't new to this though, their cutesy-but-definitely-military four-legged robots Cheetah, Big Dog and Spot are all capable of tackling tough terrain and indeed some have entered active service with the US Military as robotic mules.

In the two-legged division Boston Dynamics has also shown itself more than capable with the Petman project, a military-focused robot designed to test the next generation of body armour and protective gear. Designed to walk, move and react like a human Petman is probably the closest thing you'll get to a humanoid robot.

Boston Dynamics certainly aren't the only company that's interested in this field either, by offering up their ATLAS robot for the DARPA Robotics Challenge major organisations like NASA have been working on their own versions which can be customised for specific tasks.

Probably not in the shops by Christmas...

NASA's Valkyrie R5 is a life-saving disaster robot that has been built as much with public opinion in mind as it has usefulness so not only does it look the part but it also features some cool additions.

Limbs can be swapped out and replaced with ease dependent on the task that it has been set while 44 degrees of freedom, or axes of rotation in its joints should help it get in (and out of) the most difficult of places.

Of course the next step is finding a suitable power source. While Valkyrie and indeed this new forest-running version of ATLAS can perform impressive tasks, they're all limited by how much energy they can store with them.

Valkyrie for example can only hold an hour's worth of battery. So the next step isn't making them walk, it's making sure they can walk the distance.

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