Engineering 101

See Boston Dynamics’ Amazing Atlas Video

Atlas, Boston Dynamics‘ most dynamic humanoid robot, is again demonstrating its agility—delivering a tool bag to an absent-minded construction worker on scaffolding. When I watched the video, I couldn’t help but feel there must be a person in that robot suit. If you haven’t seen this yet, check it out:

While amusing to watch, it’s also a real test of what we can do with such a dynamic chap. It’s easy to imagine a wide range of industries that could use an Atlas robot, even a toned-down one. The video suggests the robot’s reasoning goes to using tools (the wood plank) and shows how such a robot can perform actual tasks—even if they probably won’t involve the gymnastics shown here.

Atlas is armed with a camera in its head for obvious reasons, but what is at work for Atlas is predictive control used by Boston Dynamics that enables it to predict how its motion will need to change while in use. Just like people’s heart rates increase before they stand because your heart is anticipating what your body will need to do so. This is what Atlas is already doing… amazing.

So, do you react to the video with fascination or fear? I understand people are expressing both sentiments on social media. I’m weighing in on the fascination side.

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