Google's Powerful "Atlas" Humanoid Robot Is Terrifying

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

New from the robotics lab that brought you the headless robot cheetah that runs faster than Usain Bolt: a large, lumbering robot that looks like a linebacker and runs like it's drunk.

The Atlas robot navigating unsteady outdoor terrain.
Source: 
Boston Dynamics/YouTube

Actually, Atlas, the big bipedal robot from the Google-owned, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-spin-off robotics company Boston Dynamics, has been around for a while. It showed up at the DARPA Robotics Challenge and showed promise as a future emergency rescue bot. But now its engineers have taken it outside, where the terrain is less predictable than the smooth surface of a laboratory floor.

"You can't predict what it's going to be like [out in the world]," Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics, said during the 11th International Fab Lab Conference. "All kinds of stuff happens out there, and we're making pretty good prog on making it so it has mobility that's sort of within shooting range of yours."

All that is to say: Watch it run!

The Atlas robot running through the woods.
Source: 
Boston Dynamics/YouTube

It doesn't have the juggernaut-ish coordination of a Terminator or the Sentinels from X-Men, mostly because its power tether makes it look like a baby on a leash at Disney World. But its ability to navigate over uneven terrain and also run in an uncannily human manner shows the progress Atlas is making. It started as a simple robot that can get hit without falling, and now it's a contender for the next life-saving machine.

Google bought Boston Dynamics in 2013, and it's now part of Alphabet's super cool, semi-secretive Google X lab. Google X is basically the DARPA of Silicon Valley. It's the branch responsible for any biotechnology or automation projects, including self-driving cars and Internet-access balloons. 

Watch the full video of Atlas here:

Source: YouTube

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Max Plenke

Max Plenke is a staff writer at Mic, where he covers breaking news, climate science, health and the future. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ and Wallpaper. Send story tips to max@mic.com.

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