As new technology continues to break down barriers in virtual reality and the virtual world at Mobile World Congress, real world robots are beginning to enter our real world. The latest is Google’s Atlas robot. Recently a new video of the so-called “next generation” robot emerged on February 23rd, 2016, showing Atlas moving boxes around and getting up again after he was knocked down.
Moving more toward the machine side from the movie ‘The Matrix’, this humanoid robot was designed to be able to navigate outdoor terrain with ease, as well as exude incredible balance. As the robot walks, his upper limbs can also carry and lift. When the terrain changes, Atlas can adapt too. The robot has enough coordination to climb by using its hands and feet together.
In the most recent video, Atlas is also shown opening doors, including a fire door, squatting down, twisting and lifting boxes in a warehouse setting, walking through a snowy forest plus standing up again after being knocked down. It is the robot’s ability to become upright again, which is one of its most impressive attributes.
Atlas comes with a sensor head that includes a laser range finder and stereo cameras. The robot is powered by an electric power supply that is off-board. The body and leg sensors help Atlas balance while the head stereo sensors and LIDAR help the robot avoid certain obstacles and with navigation. The latest version of the robot stands about 5’9”. It weighs about 180 pounds.
Designed by Boston Dynamics, the first version of Atlas was originally unveiled in July 2013. That version of Atlas stood 6’2” and weighed in at 330 pounds. Debuted as a disaster-response robot, the company improved the robot’s power efficiency, wireless communication, durability and strengthened its limbs in mid-2015. While the newest model of Atlas is wireless too, it is obviously smaller. In addition, the new Atlas is hydraulically actuated and has a lower center of gravity, helping with balance.
Perhaps the most dramatic new video of Atlas to be released, though, shows the robot’s reaction to being “bullied” by a human with a hockey stick. The man repeatedly knocks a box out of its hands and pushes the box away. Every time, the robot again goes after the box. As well, a person is also seen pushing the robot down to the ground. Atlas stands up again, showing not only the ability to get back on its feet, but also a way that a robot can adapt to changing situations.