When we think of Boston Dynamics, we think of a company that is bringing us even closer to Skynet. The company produces robots that are capable of incredible feats that make them move and function more like a human (in the case of Atlas) or like a dog (with SpotMini).
The company is cranking it up another notch with the latest iterations of these two robots. With Atlas, the humanoid robot is becoming more fluid in its motions and is seen taking a casual jog outside with strides that more closely mimic that of a human. Atlas is seen running on flat land and even up a slight incline. Impressively, it is also shown jumping over a log and landing solidly with both feet. Remember, this is the same robot that performed a backflip last year, so we wonder what else Boston Dynamics has in store for its premier robot.
Not to be outdone, SpotMini has been upgraded with autonomous navigation capabilities. In previous videos, SpotMini has been controlled by a human operator, but its recent upgrade has given the quadruped robot the ability to navigate around Boston Dynamics’ offices on its own without issue. In fact, SpotMini is capable of walking up and down stairs on its own without embarrassingly falling down.
“Before the test, the robot is manually driven through the space so it can build a map of the space using visual data from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the robot,” writes Boston Dynamics. SpotMini was then able to use this digital map and its onboard cameras to navigate through the office on its own, successfully dodging obstacles along the way.
Boston Dynamics continues to impress as it ups the game in the robotics field, and the company definitely has the financial backing to continue its efforts thanks to parent SoftBank Group. Boston Dynamics was previously part of Google X, but was allegedly sold to SoftBank in June 2017 because it wasn’t adding to Alphabet’s bottom line. And there was also another interesting angle the played into the decision to sell the company.
“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” wrote Google X spokeswoman Courtney Hohne in 2016.