Google takes new Atlas robot hiking

Google and Boston Dynamics unveil the Atlas robot hiking

While the Atlas robot still seems to be a far cry from a professional trail runner, Google believes its possibilities are limitless.

Google’s Boston Dynamics division recently released footage of its new Atlas humanoid robot running and hiking in the woods as a display of just how advanced their robotics technology has become:

The video shows the 6-foot-2-inch robot advancing from clumsily stumbling around the Boston Dynamics lab in Waltham, Massachusetts, to running through a nearby forest. And while at times the stride of the 350-pound machine seems to mimic the stagger of someone who has had a few too many leaving the pub, the robot stays upright throughout the demonstrations and conquers the unfamiliar challenging environment of a forest.

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"We're interested in getting this robot out in the world," said Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert at a robotics panel at the Fab Lab Conference and Symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts, earlier this month. "Out in the world is just a totally different challenge than in the lab. You can't predict what it's going to be like … Our focus is on balance and dynamics, working in the way animals and people do, moving quickly to avoid falling.”

While the robot was still hooked up to a power tether in the demonstration, Raibert said they plan on soon being able to eliminate that component to make the robots movement truly free. And although its brief run through the woods hardly seems to indicate that Atlas is going to be climbing Everest anytime soon, Raibert said he believes the possibilities for it are limitless.

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"All kinds of stuff happens out [in nature] and we're making pretty good progress on making it so it has mobility that's sort of within shooting range of yours," he said. "I'm not saying it can do everything you can do, but you can imagine if we keep pushing, we'll get there.”

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