We already know that Atlas can dance, somersault, and do parkour, but seeing it carrying out tasks on a construction site — or something set up as a construction site — shows us how the bipedal robot could one day be usefully deployed in the workplace.
In the latest video released by the robot wizards at Boston Dynamics, Atlas is shown assisting a human construction worker in the most remarkable way.
“It’s time for Atlas to pick up a new set of skills and get hands on,” Boston Dynamics says in a message accompanying video. “The humanoid robot manipulates the world around it: Atlas interacts with objects and modifies the course to reach its goal — pushing the limits of locomotion, sensing, and athleticism.”
Working at the top of some scaffolding, the construction worker realizes he’s forgotten his tool bag. He grabs a mobile device to send out a command to Atlas, which is on the ground, to fetch the bag for him.
Atlas springs into action, first using a plank of wood to create a bridge so that it can reach the worker. It then grabs the bag using its new gripper hands, skips up some steps, jumps onto a platform, and then throws the bag up to the next level to the waiting worker.
Finally, Atlas shoves a large box to the ground to create an alternative route away from the scaffolding. It then steps onto the box and performs a brilliant though completely unnecessary flip with a bunch of spins, before making a clean landing on the ground.
Atlas’s moves are incredibly impressive, and increasingly resemble those of a human. It looks incredibly steady and nimble on its feet, and with further development could conceivably perform various tasks on a real construction site.
In an accompanying video called Inside the Lab, the engineers behind Atlas reveal how the they are now indeed focusing on developing further skills for the robot to make it more useful.
“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 while maintaining that characteristic high level of performance that we expect from Atlas,” said team lead Scott Kuindersma.
Real-world applications for Atlas could ultimately involve moving heavy objects to eliminate the risk of injury for humans, or operating in environments deemed too dangerous or highly unpleasant for regular workers.
You can check out the video below: