Atlas is a robot built to save humanity. Or at least humans. Created by Boston Dynamics, the robotics wing of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Atlas began life as a DARPA rescue robot project. With a requirement that it be roughly human-shaped, much of the work on Atlas is about balance, with some early stumbles. Now that Atlas is much better at walking, it’s moving on to simple tasks, like sweeping a warehouse. Last night, Boston Dynamics released video of a newer, smaller version of Atlas venturing into the world.
This new, smaller Atlas is just 5’9” and 180 lbs. It made friends in the wild.
Those contacts led quickly to a job at a warehouse.
Not everyone at the warehouse was happy to share a workplace with a robot.
Some people were, in fact, very unhappy.
Fortunately, Atlas was able to pick itself up and walk into a less-hostile environment.
It is more morally uncomfortable for the people watching what’s happening to the human-shaped machine than it is for the machine itself. And though the video looks like an anti-robot cruelty ad, the purpose of bullying Atlas was scientific. For the robot to function in a human environment, it needs to work through some fairly common human problems, like dropping a box, losing a box, getting shoved by a stranger, and falling down. A bipedal robot has to adapt to these circumstances, because it cannot rely on the real world being as kind and forgiving as a laboratory environment. Like Boston Dynamic’s BigDog before it, Atlas passes the “overcome cruelty” test with flying colors.
Watch the full video below: