Robots: They roll, crawl, walk, and even gallop. But now a Google-built machine has taken the evolution of mechanical movement to the next glorious stage.
In the above video, the humanoid Atlas robot (created by Google subsidiary Boston Dynamics) not only balances one-legged on a short pillar of cinder blocks, it also imitates Ralph Macchio’s iconic “crane” pose from the 1984 hit The Karate Kid. Humanity, rejoice! Our robots can now perform selected bits from 80’s movies, for our amusement, at least until Skynet kills us all.
When Google acquired Boston Dynamics in late 2013, pundits and analysts wondered what the search-engine giant intended with a company that builds robots, most notably the four-legged BigDog and Cheetah. The answer to that question is still unclear: While Boston Dynamics robots have a remarkable ability to maneuver over uneven terrain and even sprint at high speeds, the commercial applications aren’t immediately apparent.
“I feel with robotics it’s a green field,” Google executive Andy Rubin told The New York Times in the immediate wake of the acquisition. “We’re building hardware, we’re building software. We’re building systems, so one team will be able to understand the whole stack.” Rubin is in the process of leaving Google, but the company’s interest in robots presumably continues.
Meanwhile, don’t get too close to the Atlas: It’s one software update away from unleashing some serious martial-arts moves.
- Google Acquires Robotics-Maker Boston Dynamics
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- Google Robot Smokes Field in DARPA Competition
Image/video: Google, Boston Dynamics