Thursday, February 25, 2016

Atlas, a new humanoid robot


Boston Dynamics has revealed Atlas, the newest iteration of their autonomous humanoid robot. It can let itself outdoors, walk on snowy ground, pick up boxes, and right itself after being pushed by a human. (Link to video). They say:
"It is specialized for mobile manipulation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR [laser surveying technology] and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation and manipulate objects. This version of Atlas is about 5' 9" tall (about a head shorter than the DRC Atlas) and weighs 180 lbs."

8 comments:

Jim Douglas said...

My reaction at 1:22-2:04 was "just let the poor robot pick up the box and do his job." That's an emotional response similar to what I felt watching Pixar's Wall-E. I wonder if I would experience a different reaction if the robot's designers sought to make Atlas look more human. Perhaps I would feel fear and revulsion rather than sympathy due to Masahiro Mori's "uncanny valley." Fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing, Jim.

craigstephens said...

I agree, I felt sorry for the poor little guy when the human bully with knocked him over with the hockey stick! I am now also assigning gender to it. Very interesting. I also just had to check a box stating that I am not a robot before I could post my comment. There are a lot of issues going on here!

Kristopher Battles said...

Looks like it could be a prop in one of your fantastical plein air paintings...

Or maybe, one of your paintings is coming to life!

jeff jordan said...

I'd ignore Asimov's Robot Rules if I was that mechanical person……..

James Gurney said...

Yeah, I agree with all of you that it's hard not to personify the robot and identify with it being abused. Of course I realize that the guy with the hockey stick would say he's just testing or demonstrating the machine's ability to recover from unexpected forces delivered to it, and that's part of its design parameters. But if the programmed mission objective of the robot was to pick up the box and eliminate all obstacles to the task, the robot might reasonably push back or worse.

I guess what surprised me the most was that Boston Dynamics would release the video with such obvious negative psychological implications making their engineers look mean and not explaining what they were doing. The cinematography implies a story, and therefore it's hard to watch the video without inferring a story with characters and motivations.

krystal said...

Yes...it's true! You become so attached to robots that you end up assigning them a name, age, etc. I find it interesting that they really did learn from the older version of Atlas; I attended DRC in Pomona (that's the Darpa Robotics Challenge for those not in the know) and the centre of gravity issue for that robot was a big issue; not only did he keep tipping over because the power pack is primarily on the upper half of the body (if the bottom half was unstable, in tasks such as climbing up stairs or using one arm/hand to turn the wheel of a firehose), but once he did tip over, it was a "reset" typically, in that the robot was unable to get up for himself. That in itself is a really smart design.
The target design for the boxes reminds me of how Baxter (other robot) sorts for pick and place tasks :)
I've actually found that a lot of engineers are incredibly creative, which I really love. Well, at least the ones in California I've met, and also some in Arizona; Arizona has an incredible engineering community. They can also be incredibly clinical when need be and have a GREAT sense of humour! They demand excellence, and I love that. Love love love them...they work hard and play hard! :)

David King said...

Hmm....I see laws in the near future that will require all signs be posted in robot language as well as English and Spanish. I did feel a slight bit of empathy for the robot at first as well but caught myself and remembered it's just a machine doing what it's programmed to do. It seems to have a bit of trouble with negotiating irregular surfaces (read natural terrain).

Roberto said...

PBS recently aired a Nova episode called ‘Rise-of-the-Robots’ about the Darpa Robotics Challenge. This Boston Dynamics Robot looks like it could meet the challenge easily. -RQ

www.wliw.org/programs/nova/rise-of-the-robots/