Google acquired Boston Dynamics back in December 2013, which following the name change, now makes Boston Dynamics a subsidiary of Alphabet Co. This of course means a lot more money for their already amazing robotic research (and more importantly, robots!), which in turn lead to this latest iteration of their humanoid Atlas robot.
The new version of Atlas, originally a high mobility, bipedal humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain, has just been unveiled, this time designed to operate both outdoors and inside buildings.
It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated, using sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain and help with navigation. This version of Atlas is about 5′ 9″ tall (about a head shorter than the DRC Atlas) and weighs 180 lbs.
The robot itself is an absolutely amazing feat of engineering and software programming. It can open doors, trudge through snow, as well as track, bend and pick up objects (and then safely place them down again). Atlas can also right itself if it is hit (say, by an angry man with a hockey stick for example), and most amazing of all, is able to stand up by itself if it falls over (a particularly difficult feat in robotics).
In fact, watching Atlas in action is more than just a little creepy:
Related Link: Boston Dynamics
Building robots that mimic animal behaviour is pretty common these days it would seem, and in 2014 the team making up the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory group (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in case you’re not familiar with the famous MIT abbreviation) unveiled their entry in the form of the Cheetah, a robot set apart by its bounding movement action.
Needless to say, the robot was glorious to see in action:
Fast forward a year, and the team has announced improved algorithms that now allows their Cheetah robot to hurdle over obstacles as it runs – making it the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.
To get a running jump, the robot plans out its path going through the following sequence: As it detects an approaching obstacle (using LIDAR), it estimates that object’s height and distance. The robot then gauges the best position from which to jump, and adjusts its stride to land just short of the obstacle, before exerting enough force to push up and over. Based on the obstacle’s height, the robot then applies a certain amount of force to land safely, before resuming its initial pace.
In experiments on a treadmill and an indoor track, the cheetah robot successfully cleared obstacles up to 18 inches tall – more than half of the robot’s own height – while maintaining an average running speed of 5 miles per hour.
To see this in action is pretty amazing:
An incredible feat and yet another big step closer to that terrifying fear of being chased down by a killer robot becoming a reality!
Boston Dynamics (whom I’ve highlighted before) is an engineering and robotics design company that is best known for the development of BigDog, a quadruped robot designed for the U.S. military with funding from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DI-Guy, software for realistic human simulation.
Early in the company’s history, it worked with the American Systems Corporation under a contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) to replace naval training videos for aircraft launch operations with interactive 3D computer simulations featuring DI-Guy characters.
National Academy of Engineering member Marc Raibert is the company’s president and project manager. He spun the company off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, in order to continue their work in developing robots that run and maneuver like animals.
On 13 December 2013, the company was acquired by Google.
Well now Google and Boston Dynamics have a new metal friend in the mix.
On the 9th of February they unveiled Spot, a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered (in other words can operate in both inside and outside conditions), hydraulically actuated, and has a sensor head (Lidar by the look of it) that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. It also weighs about 72 kg, more than 30 kg lighter than BigDog. (In other words, it is smaller, more agile and faster than its big brother).
The robot, can walk, trot and climb across all types of terrain, and can even survive attempts to destabilize it by unfeeling humans eager with their kicks. (Which is a bad thing because we probably shouldn’t be antagonizing these things!)
Right. So here’s Spot’s unveiling video:
SkyNet will be well pleased with this latest addition…
Related Link: http://www.bostondynamics.com/
If the Terminator timeline Skynet evolves from anything already here, then chances are pretty damn good that it is simply a rename of current robotics company Boston Dynamics. Famed for their animal-like robotics funded by DARPA and intended for use by the American military, the things that Boston Dynamics creates is enough to put the fear of robots in any sane human being!
The latest release is the WildCat, the sequel to 2012’s fast running Cheetah robot, and seeing it in action is pretty terrifying – at the moment it’s only travelling at about 25 km/h, though if you remember correctly, it’s daddy set the world robotic speed record by running at nearly double that!
It gallops, it bounds and despite the Americans telling you that it would be great for “emergency response, firefighting, advanced agriculture and vehicular travel”, just imagine this thing kitted out with some scythe blades or a laser or two, busy chasing you down!
The brilliantly retro Go Nagai 2001 to 2002 OVA classic, Mazinkaiser, came to an end with the fiery action-packed episode seven, entitled “A Decisive Battle!! Flaming Hell Castle!” Hell, with a title like that, how could anyone go wrong? ;)
Having arisen from the fiery depths of an active Mount Fuji thanks to the assistance of Kaiser Scrander, the wings of Mazinkaiser, Kouji Kabuto decides to avenge the destroyed Photon Power Labratory and his lost friends by striking directly at the heart of Dr Hell’s operations – Hell Island! While the Great Mazinger piloted by Tetsuya keeps the attaching mechanical beasts at bay, Kouji in his Mazinkaiser comes face to face with the hellish Baron Ashura, now integrated into the body of a gigantic, fearsome mechanical beast. Multi-armed and standing three times as tall as Mazinkaiser, Baron Ashura inflicts punishing damage on Mazinkaiser with his huge sword, only to be eventually be beaten back after a revelation frees Mazinkaiser’s ultimate weapon – the Final Blade!
And as you can see from the images below, the final battle really is final. Loads of action and goofy drama, dark atmosphere, giant robots and exploding islands – seriously, what more could a classic anime mecha fan ask for?
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazinkaiser
I love it whenever I see Science Fiction become Science Reality. Case in point: The monkey propels the robot.
A couple of weeks ago this remarkable report appeared which tells the story of how a small monkey named Idoya made a rather large humanoid robot walk on a treadmill – using only her brain activity! And to make this story even more amazing – she was in North Carolina, USA while the robot was in Japan.
Basically this is what was done. For a couple of months the researchers trained Idoya to walk on a treadmill. At the same time the scientists were recording the various brain activities and neuron responses to her walking action, generating a language that a computer would be able to understand.
Once all the preliminary work was done, Idoya (who has electrodes implanted in her brain) was then introduced back to her treadmill, this time with a big screen in front of it. On this screen was the live video of the CB (Computational Brain) robot, also standing on his very own treadmill over in Japan. As Idoya began walking along the treadmill, her recorded neuron patterns were fed into CB so that he too began to walk, basically copying Idoya’s thought patterns. The response time was less than a quarter of a second, so Idoya basically became attuned to the robot’s movements.
Backwards and forwards Idoya walked, controlling the robot at every step of the way until the researchers decided to play a trick on her and did something rather unexpected – they stopped the treadmill. As everyone held their breath, Idoya’s eyes remained focussed on CB’s legs and much to everyone’s jubilation, CB continued to walk as Idoya maintained her concentration on the robot.
This is a huge step in showing how it is feasible for humans’ to be able to control equipment like exoskeletons using only the power of their mind, and once we find out how to safely place electrodes in a human brain, this may very well be the next step in creating a new Science Fact!
Once again, a person can’t help but be impressed by human ingenuity. Honestly, sometimes it seems that nothing is impossible for us as a race – except perhaps the creation self-cleaning baths and showers – those things would sell like hotcakes!
Related Link: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/16/healthscience/15robo.php