Do You Love Me? Boston Dynamics Robots Show How Good They Are
Written by Lucy Black   
Wednesday, 30 December 2020

 ... at dancing. But don't be put off by this frivolous description. This is not an entirely frivolous display. If there is one robot video you watch this year make it this one.

Before you take a look and enjoy the video I have one word to say - "feet". Keep a close eye on what the bipedal robots are doing with their feet and be amazed. This is not just bipedal standing, it's bipedal showing off. The Spot quadruped and the weird Handle robot add to the display, but it is the latest Atlas robots that are the really impressive pieces of technology. Keep in mind that this is real time - no video speedup:

If you compare this bipedal performance to the early days of the DARPA challenge, or even some of the impressive, but clearly "special", achievements of Atlas at gymnastic feats, you can see that things have moved on a lot. Atlas dances as if more than in control of its body and the days of struggling to keep a balance are clearly long gone.

What does this means for what Atlas can really do?

Boston Dynamics was recently bought from SoftBank by Hyundai and since then we have seen some commercialization of its robots - mainly the Spot quadruped. When will Atlas be ready for the commercial market? You might want to argue that dancing and other toy tricks are just that. We are still a long way from a robot that is clever enough to interact with a human or indeed do any complex task unaided. These aren't robots, but radio controlled puppets. While there is truth in this idea, we need a solid radio-controlled puppet before we can move on to adding some AI to make it useful. If you think back to the early Atlas attempts at walking, you can see that the problem was just staying upright. If now we have something that is physically up to the task of running a body, we can move on and concenrate on the mind.


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 December 2020 )