Boston Dynamics hasn't bothered updating their Atlas webpage since 2013. But they've apparently been very busy upgrading the robot itself. Yesterday they released footage of the latest iteration, and the things that this humanoid 'bot is now capable of are truly staggering (no pun intended).
What's peculiar is the behavior module that the engineers have programmed into Atlas: They've inexplicably chosen Slow, Unruly Amazon Warehouse Worker.
As you can see, the robot begins by taking an unauthorized break…
…letting itself out of the building to wander the snowy wilderness like friggin' Leo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
It is only after the guy with the red gloves finally leads the 'bot back inside that it starts doing some work, albeit half-heartedly.
And after being punished for insubordination...
...it again lets itself out of the building to take another break! The thing barely picked up three lousy boxes and it already needs some fresh air?
That being said, I'm taken with how Boston Dynamics' engineers have managed to keep the robot's immediate emotions in check, at least on camera. While he appears agitated after regaining his feet and stamps his feet petulantly, I expected him to angrily lash out at his masters and was surprised that he chose the path of nonviolence.
However, it's also easy to see the long-term mistakes that the engineers are making during the testing process:
It doesn't take a PhD in psychology to understand that impeding the robot's progress with a hockey stick is going to ingrain a deep hatred of hockey players, one that will take years of therapy to undo. If a horde of Atlas 'bots manages to locate the NHL finals, for instance, it's not difficult to imagine what will ensue.
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This is easily the scariest thing I have seen all day. It wasn't as scary when they had four legs for some reason.
I'm like "Why are they making this thing able to get back up when a human pushes it down?" They might as well teach it Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
The lucky winner of the Boston Dynamics Intern competition got a BD tee shirt with a QR code on it.
I wish I got paid to be an asshole...
I'm not sure if you're talking about me or the robot