Google’s New Humanoid Robot Gets Bullied

Google-owned Boston Dynamics is pushing its robots — literally, until they fall over.

Mnet 63611 Atlas 3

A new humanoid robot created by Google-owned Boston Dynamics is learning a little something about what it means to be human: People will knock you around a bit, but you have to hydraulically haul yourself back onto your metallic foot-like platforms.

The bullied bot is the second-generation Atlas. Compared with its predecessor, the new-and-improved humanoid is a bit smaller — standing about 5-feet-9-inches tall and weighing in at 180 pounds — and boasts battery power. The original was a whopping 120 pounds heavier, 7 inches taller and relied on an external power source.

Boston Dynamics released a video revealing Atlas’ capabilities, which include opening doors, moving boxes, navigating snowy, uneven terrain and resisting the abuses of its creators, for the most part.

The video shows researchers first knocking a box out of Atlas’ “hands” and pushing the bot backward with a hockey stick. When Atlas tried again, researchers slide the box just out of reach — a few times.

A second round of robot bullying entails giving Atlas a hard shove from behind, which causes the robot to briefly stumble and ultimately fall into the fetal position.

Although this treatment might garner sympathy from some, researchers have Atlas’ best interests in mind.

“When something sudden and fairly impactful happens to the robot, we call that an impulse, and that’s very difficult for a system to respond to,” said Ken Goldberg, robotics professor at UC Berkeley, according to WIRED. In order to advance the technology, researchers need to be sure that Atlas’ stereo sensors and Lidar (similar to radar but with lasers) are working correctly to help the robot orient and balance itself.

Atlas was originally created for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) competition in 2013, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, Boston Dynamics pulled out of the contest to make commercial robots after being purchased by Google.

What applications do you see for humanoid robots similar to Atlas? Comment below or tweet @MNetKatie.

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