Video: Boston Dynamics' founder, Marc Raibert, recently gave a TED Talk where he trotted out some of the company's recent innovations. The talk mostly features robot tricks we've seen before, except for a brilliant outtake of ATLAS trying to help out in a cafeteria that probably serves as the most accurate look at what life with humanoid robots will be like for the next few decades.
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Three years after acquiring the MIT robotics lab Boston Dynamics, makers of Atlas and other scary bots, Alphabet (Google's parent company) is selling it off to Softbank, a Japanese telecommunications company already known for its less terrifying robots such as Pepper that might soon be getting some impressive upgrades. It turns out that posting YouTube videos of nightmare-inducing robots isn't as profitable as once hoped.
We got our first glimpse of Boston Dynamics' newest robot about a month ago after footage leaked from a presentation given by Marc Raibert, the company's founder. But today we finally have the first official reveal of Handle, and the new video will make you wish you also had wheels instead of feet.
Video: Boston Dynamics gives us a terrifying glimpse into a dystopian future where Santa's reindeer have been replaced with (highly kickable) trotting robotic dogs.
We haven't seen much of Boston Dynamic's four-legged self-balancing Big Dog robot since it was last spotted hurling cinder blocks in a lab. And that's maybe because the company's robotic geniuses have been hard at work building a smaller more agile version called Spot that weighs just 160 pounds so it can safely operate both indoors and out.
As if the original version of Boston Dynamics' ATLAS robot wasn't unsettling enough, ahead of the upcoming DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June about 75 per cent of the robot has been redesigned and rebuilt to make it stronger, faster, quieter,and less encumbered by cables thanks to a battery-filled backpack that will now keep it powered during the upcoming trials.
Oh, sure, we all pointed and laughed at ATLAS when it was first revealed, stumbling over simple obstacles. But it was because deep down we all knew that, like our original iPods, it would quickly evolve into something far more capable. And, here we are, just over a year later, and ATLAS is already tackling simple obstacles with ease.
As impressive as Boston Dynamics' humanoid robot ATLAS moves, it's still not completely free to explore wherever it wants. Thick trunk lines keep it tethered to machinery and pumps that provide power, hydraulic fluids, and of course communications and data. But researchers at MIT are now working to free ATLAS of its leash-like umbilical cord sometime in the next six months.