The bipedal robot Atlas is already known to be able to dance, somersault, and perform parkour, but seeing it perform activities on a construction site—or on a set designed to seem like one—illustrates how it might be used in the workplace in the future.
A human construction worker is helped in the most amazing way by Atlas in the most recent video produced by Boston Dynamics’ robot wizards.
“It’s time for Atlas to pick up a new set of skills and get hands-on,” Boston Dynamics says in a message accompanying video. “The humanoid robot manipulates the world around it: Atlas interacts with objects and modifies the course to reach its goal — pushing the limits of locomotion, sensing, and athleticism.”
The construction guy is at the top of some scaffolding when he remembers his tool bag is missing. He takes out his phone and commands Atlas, which is lying on the ground, to bring him the bag.
The moment the worker is within reach, Atlas goes into action, initially building a bridge out of a board of wood. The creature then grabs the bag with its improved grasp, skips a few steps up, jumps onto a platform, and delivers the bag to the worker waiting on the upper level.
In order to clear a path away from the scaffolding, Atlas finally rams a huge crate to the ground. After stepping onto the box, it executes a spectacular but entirely needless flip with many spins before coming to a clean stop on the ground.
The movements Atlas makes are astoundingly fluid and increasingly resemble those of a human. It appears to be remarkably solid and quick on its feet, and with more work, it might be able to carry out a variety of jobs on a real building site.
The creators of Atlas explain how they are currently concentrating on giving the robot new talents to increase its use in a companion movie titled Inside the Lab.
Team leader Scott Kuindersma said, “Now that Atlas is operational, we’re thinking about how the robot should be able to observe and operate objects in its environment while retaining the distinctive high level of performance that we anticipate from Atlas.
Atlas may eventually be used in the real world to move big objects to reduce the possibility of human injury or to operate in conditions thought to be too hazardous or uncomfortable for ordinary personnel.