The robotics maker Boston Dynamics has advanced what are the new capabilities of the Atlas humanoid robotwhich can already pick up objects from the floor or other surfacestransport them from one place to another and launch them in the air.
The company, known for her robot dog Spothas shared a video in which he demonstrates the new features of his creation, which previously had the ability to run and jump over complex terrain thanks to its lower extremities.
This robot, which has been the subject of research and development for years, I could also do parkour, that is, to jump and flip backwards; features to which the ability to pick up objects, move them and throw them has been added.
In the new preview of Atlas, you can see how you interact with objects and modify your path to reach your goalwhich is to deliver a backpack with tools to a worker who is on a multi-story scaffold.
After placing a ramp to be able to move between one block and another of the scaffolding, the robot picks up the backpack from the ground and manages to hand it over to the worker. After that, it returns to the surface where it was jumping and doing a 540-degree inverted turn, as the company has detailed.
According to Atlas Controls leader Ben Stephens, these new capabilities are part of a natural progression of research and development for the machine. “Parkour and dance were interesting examples of extreme locomotion and now we are trying to take advantage of that research to create meaningful manipulation,” he said, insisting that it is important for the humanoid to perform tasks at the speed of humans.
The company has pointed out that while the movements previously presented, with jumps and cartwheels, show a more complex technique, the latest capabilities integrated into its software are even more complicated.
This is because the robot requires a greater understanding of the environment, so the development team has had to face “an additional challenge” to not only detect, grasp and move objects with different sizes, materials and weights, but also maintain balance while transporting them from one place to another.
According to Stephens, one of the most outstanding achievements of the robot is that it can manipulate a wooden plank and do a 180 jump while holding itsince the robot’s control system must take into account the momentum of this object so that Atlas does not tip over.
Pushing boxes is also another task that is more difficult, since Atlas must generate enough force to move them, but do so by measuring that resistance so as not to tip over with this object as well.
Finally, cartwheels have also become another headache for developers, as the spin that the robot performs “adds an asymmetry that doesn’t exist in a normal backflip.”
In this way, engineers have had to solve problems such as entangling his own limbs while bending his arms and legs to propel himself and jump.