Google’s long-standing quest to build the robot overlords which will eventually subjugate humanity and usher in a 1,000-year reign of the machines is apparently progressing nicely.
The company’s robotics subsidiary, Boston Dynamics, has revealed the latest iteration of its Atlas robot, most recently seen doing the hoovering last month.
That version of Atlas was clunky, tethered to its control apparatus through a tangle of wires, and not a particularly good housekeeper either. But just a month later, and the newest iteration of the hardware is much more agile.
The next generation of Atlas is smaller than its predecessor, and able to run without wires entirely. The demonstration video shows it opening the door of Boston Dynamics offices, in Massachusetts, before trampling through the snow-filled woodland outside their building. It stumbles once, but stays upright throughout.
The video also shows the robot stacking 10lb weights, and, in a classic of the Boston Dynamics “robot torture” genre, being prodded with a hockey stick before eventually being forcefully shoved over entirely with a tube. But even when it’s down, Atlas isn’t out, and the robot manages to quickly get up on two legs.
The 180lb (80kg) robot is just one of Boston Dynamics creations. The company, acquired by Google in 2013, is most famous for its Big Dog line of quadrupedal freight robots, which mimic pack animals like oxen or asses, with the intention of providing off-road baggage capability to clients such as the US military.
Unfortunately, the Marine Corp weren’t too happy with the latest version of the Big Dog, called the LS3. The robot’s noisy gasoline engine was deemed a safety risk, according to a military spokesman: “They took it as it was: a loud robot that’s going to give away their position”. As a result, they rejected the machines, which are in storage with no further plans for experimentation.