Tech Company Releases Humanoid Robot Demo


Engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics (Waltham, Massachusetts) recently showcased its latest technology, Atlas.

Described as a humanoid robot, Boston Dynamics shares that Atlas is a research platform designed to push the limits of whole-body mobility. Designed with an advanced control system and state-of-the-art hardware, Atlas reportedly has the power and balance to demonstrate human-level agility.

Atlas in Construction

According to reports, Atlas will turn 10 this year and had undergone years of testing and development, as showcased in a recently released video of the humanoid on a construction site. Measuring 5 feet tall and weighing 196 pounds, Atlas has 28 hydraulically-actuated joints which help to give the android speed, balance and other athletic capabilities.

Atlas was also designed with several cameras located within its head, including a color camera and a depth-sensing time-of-flight camera that it uses to build a 3D map of its environment.

“We're not just thinking about how to make the robot move dynamically through its environment like we did in parkour and dance,” said Atlas team lead Scott 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.”

In the company’s latest video of Atlas’ capabilities, the robot was asked to deliver a bag of tools to another construction worker. Because the worker was on a multi-story scaffold, Atlas had to grasp, carry and toss the tool bag, in addition to climbing stairs and jumping between levels. To really showcase the robot's capabilities, Boston Dynamics had Atlas dismount from the level with an inverted 540-degree flip.

“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,” Robin Deits, a software engineer on the Atlas controls team, told reporters.

“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.”

Control lead Ben Stephens added that these examples showcase Atlas’ extreme locomotive capabilities. In pushing and exploring everything that Atlas can do, the research team reports that it is continuing to explore how much further the technology can be manipulated.

“It’s important to us that the robot can perform these tasks with a certain amount of human speed. People are very good at these tasks, so that has required some pretty big upgrades to the control software,” Stephens said.

Despite the progress being made on Atlas’ capabilities, Boston Dynamics reports that utilizing the humanoid in the real world is still a long way off and that its teams are still working on the technology’s development.

Other Technology

Back in 2020, Boston Dynamics showcased Spot the robot dog—a vehicle for carrying image capturing or laser scanning equipment where humans might not be able to.

In all of the robot dog’s testing, Spot has been confirmed to be able to carry up to 25 pounds of payload and is able to use up to three different types of scanning or data capturing equipment through both autonomous and remote controlled methods.

In the middle of February that year, Spot displayed its capabilities at the HITT’s Co|Lab in Falls Church, Virginia. Using 3D measuring and imaging technology from Faro Technologies (Lake Mary, Florida), Spot was instructed to walk up and down stairs and through rough terrain while autonomously capturing images for HITT’s team and end users.

According to Boston Dynamics, Spot can only be obtained through an early adopter program. However, lease prices claim to run less than that of a car, depending on the time period and amount of units.

Several months later, in June, it was announced that Spot was employed by Hensel Phelps to perform scans at the Denver International Airport. The use of robot was expected to last six months, although progress at the site in general was slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, Hensel used Trimble X7 laser scanners to communicate.

Then, in the spring of 2022, a painting created by Polish-American artist Agnieszka Pilat and Spot the sold for $40,000 at a charity benefit for Ukrainian refugees.

The sold-out event, “For Ukraine: A Private Concert,” was hosted by Pilat, Olympic Gold medal figure skater Brian Boitano and “The Phantom of the Opera” star Franc D’Ambrosio on March 18, 2022. All funds raised were sent to the Polish Dominican Friars, a charity that is providing shelter, food and medical care to Ukrainian refugees entering Poland.

Pilat has been an artist-in-residence at Waymo (Google AV), Autodesk, USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier and at the time, was a guest artist-in-residence at Boston Dynamics, working with the company’s robot, Spot.

Together, Pilat and Spot created the painting "Sunrise March" as a gift to help raise funds in an auction at the event. The painting was reportedly produced by Spot’s marching feet, symbolizing “the feet of millions of refugees marching towards Poland in hope of escaping the war.”

Additionally, the painting was done in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, representing “not only despair but also the march for hope and freedom.”

In total, the event reportedly raised more than $250,000.

Pilat had reportedly been working with Spot for a while, creating different art as well as creating conversation around technophobia, which Pilat hopes will “elevate technology and make it cultured.”

In addition to working with the robot dog, Pilat will reportedly take Spot for walks, go to public events and bring the robot to dinner parties. “I developed a real emotional relation to Spot. I really connected with it,” said Pilat.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Boston Dynamics; Construction; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Robotics; Technology; Tools; Tools & Equipment; Tools & Equipment - Commercial; Z-Continents

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