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Boston Dynamics’ Humanoid Robot, ATLAS, In Latest Video

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Boston Dynamics, the robotics design company, has been demonstrating to the world that we're knee deep in the robot revolution. It was only back in April when the company released a series of videos of the humanoid robot PETMAN, which captured a lot of media attention and a mix of reactions across the web.

Now only a few short months later, the latest design from Boston Dynamics dubbed the ATLAS robot has been unveiled as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, which is the next stage in a grand challenge sequence. ATLAS is a 6 foot 2 inch, 330-lb robot outfitted with hydraulic actuated joints, LIDAR sensing head, an onboard control computer, thermal management (like the PETMAN), and two sets of hands designed by iRobot and Sandia National Labs.

The released video is both awesome and unnerving in how life-like the company's robots are becoming:

One thing is clear: ATLAS looks human because it's designed to do what humans certain situations, that is.

Before anyone freaks out about what science fiction movies have repeatedly forewarned us about, DARPA's goal with this program is aimed at generating robots that can "perform the most hazardous activities in future disaster response operations." The seven teams selected to progress from the Virtual Robotics Challenge in June are tasked with programming ATLAS to carry out functions appropriate to the disaster scenario. The finals and a $2 million prize for DARPA's challenge are schedule for the end of 2014.

Putting machines in places that are highly dangerous to humans is nothing new, but advances in AI and robotics has raised their sophistication to seemingly autonomous levels. This same phenomenon is occurring with the use of drones, as the military increasingly uses them as the go-to solution for operations that could cost soldiers their lives. Though concerns of privacy and security abound, the motive behind these development in robotics is to keep people from physical harm, regardless of the situation.

To learn more about the teams in the competition, check out the following video:


David J. Hill

Managing Director, Digital Media at Singularity University
I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

Discussion — 7 Responses

  • JoseLuis Malo July 15, 2013 on 3:02 pm

    In around 10 years, humanoid robots will become ubiquitous doing many complex physical tasks that only people do now. It’s a question of getting the hardware with terabytes of RAM shrunk enough to where it can fit on the on board computer together with something like an IBM Watson equivalent for object & environment recognition and manipulation. The robot revolution is gonna hit hard next decade!

  • Robert Schreib July 15, 2013 on 6:02 pm

    !? This gave me flashbacks to that ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series on the SyFy channel! Whatever you do, remember the lesson of the Cylons, and never give sentient independence to any machine with a gun!

    • Chris Ferguson Robert Schreib July 16, 2013 on 9:38 am

      I don’t think that they will do any worse than a human with a gun. We don’t have to wait for robots to take us out, we are more than capable of ending our species.

    • Lulutron Robert Schreib July 25, 2013 on 11:25 am

      One thing we know: Robots already far outstrip humans in reflex speed and targeting accuracy.
      The next thing they need is the “central algorithm” (that gives them human-like fluid intelligence and common sense).
      I believe a robot with such a “central algorithm” will appear in early 2030s.

  • Intersection July 15, 2013 on 8:29 pm

    Before anyone freaks out about what science fiction movies have repeatedly forewarned us about, DARPA’s goal with this program is aimed at generating robots that can ”perform the most hazardous activities in future disaster response operations.”
    Yeah right because the Defense Research Agency would never think of using robots developed for “hazardous activities” for any military purposes. I mean I’m sure if the Defense Research Agency is spending millions of dollars to develop walking robots they must only want them for civilian applications. Why would anyone think otherwise?

  • Mickey Davis July 18, 2013 on 6:10 am

    you need up grade your robots , but great job guys

  • johann citerin July 30, 2013 on 12:57 am

    Well, Atlas seems to be years ahead the competition, as Boston Dynamics already was for so long now for 4-legs robots.
    Some of their other fellow competitors still do not have a complete prototype robot, at only a few months from first DARPA challenge tests!