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Boston Dynamics’ Atlas has evolved; now it can jump, grab and throw

Boston Dynamics' humanoid jumps between different levels and even shows off an impressive inverted 540-degree flip.

Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamic’s humanoid robot, Atlas, has evolved. Apparently, it can now assist humans. 

Boston Dynamics has shared a new video showing its Atlas robot running, jumping, grabbing a bag and tosses it. The video set-up shows a simulated construction site where Atlas helps a worker.  The robot interacts with various objects. It jumps between different levels, pushes a large wooden block and even shows off an impressive inverted 540-degree flip.

The company’s team lead on Atlas, Scott Kuindersma, in the later part of the video explains the the video is meant to  show case how far they have reached in research. “We’re not just thinking about how to make the robot move dynamically through its environment, like we did in Parkour and Dance,” said Kuindersma. “Now, we’re starting to put Atlas to work and think about how the robot should be able to perceive and manipulate objects in its environment.”

“Parkour forces us to understand the physical limitations of the robot, and dance forces us to think about how precise and dexterous the whole-body motion can be. Now, manipulation is forcing us to take that information and interpret it in terms of how we can get the hands to do something specific. What’s important about the Atlas project is that we don’t let go of any of those other things we’ve learned,” said Robin Deits, a software engineer on the Atlas controls team, in a press statement.

The new grippers of the bipedal robot -one fixed finger and one movable finger – is bringing it a step closer to behave like humans. The video was indeed  rehearsed and carefully but it’s still an impressive demonstration of the skills the humanoid could show case in the future.

Boston Dynamics‘ Atlas is a research platform, and as of now, not available for purchase. However, company’s two other robots- Stretch (one-armed warehouse robot) and Spot (quadrupedal robodog) are available for purchase.

Can Boston Dynamics’ humanoid replace manual workers?

In the video, Kuindersma said that bipedal robots could do well in manufacturing, factory, and construction settings. However,  Atlas controls lead Ben Stephens acknowledged that they’re still a “long way off” from humanoid robots that can take over manual labor and real-world tasks. “Manipulation is a broad category, and we still have a lot of work to do,” he said, adding “but this gives a sneak peek at where the field is going.”