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Boston Dynamics robot learns from being bullied

A lot of robots can perform some rather complex maneuvers. Atlas excels in its strength and resiliency.

By
Brooks Hays

BOSTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Engineers at Google-owned Boston Dynamics have put their Atlas humanoid robot through a boot camp of bullying -- pushing, shoving, tripping.

But as a number of new videos reveal, the bipedal robot is road-tested and tough, capable of trekking across snow-covered fields or rough and rocky terrain. Atlas can right itself after a fall can bend over to pick up large objects.

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Atlas isn't a new robot, but the latest videos show the agent in new and improved form. It's range of motion is more sophisticated and it no longer needs an external power source.

"It's definitely kind of jaw dropping," Ken Goldberg, robotics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told WIRED. "They've really smoothed out a lot of the motion."

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A lot of robots can perform some rather complex maneuvers. Atlas excels in its strength and resiliency.

Pushing Atlas to the ground over and over may seem a cruel exercise, but researchers say it's the best way to train the robot to respond to a jarring collision.

"When something sudden and fairly impactful happens to the robot, we call that an impulse, and that's very difficult for a system to respond to," Goldberg added.

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Atlas's ability to navigate uneven terrain and pick itself up off the ground is made possible by a series of LiDAR sensors on its legs and body, as well as stereo sensors in its head.

Boston Dynamics have developed several Atlas iterations -- as well as other robots -- for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and U.S. Marine Corps, and some suggest the robot could be the future of ground combat.

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