A video shows Google’s new robot standing on one foot, emulating–in part–the crane kick featured in the Karate Kid movie. The robot, which weighs 330 pounds and is 6’2” tall, was actually built by Boston Dynamics, which is a company Google Inc. (GOOG) owns. The algorithm that controls the robot is the creation of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC).
The manufacturer of the robot said that Atlas, its name, is a humanoid robot that was developed so it could easily cross rough, outdoor terrain. Atlas has the ability to walk on two limbs, allowing the upper limbs to carry, lift, and generally engage with the surrounding environment. On the terrain that is extremely hostile, the robot is strong enough and has sufficient coordination to climb using both hands and feet, as well as the ability to make its way through any congested areas.
At the moment, Atlas’ gets its power from a separate power supply that is connected via a flexible cable. However, the robot will soon be free to roam as upgrades are planned to make it entirely cordless. Currently, the robot features 28 hydraulic joints, a laser rangefinder, and stereo cameras. Soon, the robot’s arms will be adapted to increase their versatility and strength.
Google in the News: The Robot and the Karate Kid
It’s already scary to think of what Atlas is capable of, because it’s quite impressive to be able to keep such a tall robot standing upright, even when it is moving. At the moment, the robot is incapable of completing the crane kick as it’s particularly difficult for an upright robot to jump and land.
Boston dynamics’ gets most of its funding for the advanced robotic research it does from representatives of the military, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is commonly referred to as the “mad scientist” portion of the US military. DARPA doesn’t just give money, it also organizes competitions that pit the most cutting edge robotics technologies against each other. The previous edition of the DARPA Grand Challenge, as it is referred to, saw Atlas come in second after it proved capable of performing most of the tasks first responders had to perform. For this edition, some experts believe that Atlas could take first place.
Financial News: Google Inc.
Google Inc. recently signed a lease with NASA for a 60 year timeframe that will allow them to use Moffett Airfield base. The base will be the site where the company will conduct research into space exploration, aviation and robotic technologies. It likely won’t be long before we see a version of Atlas that can jump and land just like a human.