The video, titled “Atlas Gets a Grip” demonstrates the robot’s problem-solving abilities as it navigates a mocked-up construction site, tossing a bag of tools to a construction worker standing on scaffolding. But the robot’s skills don’t stop there – it also pulls off a backflip with a twist, dismounting with an inverted 540-degree flip that project engineers have dubbed the “Sick Trick.”
The video is meant to demonstrate how Atlas can be helpful, and not just a dancing machine. “We’re not just thinking about how to make the robot move dynamically through its environment, like we did in Parkour and Dance,” says Boston Dynamics’ team lead on Atlas, 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.”
Boston Dynamics has already started selling its robots, Stretch and Spot, to customers. Stretch is a wheeled, one-armed warehouse robot, while Spot is a quadrupedal robodog that has been used to surveil construction sites, assist firefighters, and even explore a SpaceX launch site. Kuindersma suggests that robots that can stand upright would be well-suited for use in manufacturing, factory, and construction environments – areas that were originally created for human labor.
Atlas controls lead, Raibert, points out, “It’s not just about putting robots in human environments, it’s about creating robots that can adapt to those environments.” And that’s exactly what Atlas is designed to do.
This marks a significant milestone for Boston Dynamics as it demonstrates the potential of its robots to be utilized in real-world workplaces. The video “Inside the Lab: Taking Atlas From Sim to Scaffold” highlights the fact that this is a significant direction the company is pursuing.
The release of these videos comes at a time when the use of robots in the construction industry is becoming increasingly prevalent. As construction sites become more complex and construction workers face shortages, robots like Atlas could play a key role in addressing these challenges.
Ben Stephens, Atlas controls lead says that roboticists are still a “long way off” from creating humanoid robots that can routinely tackle dirty and dangerous jobs in the real world, the new moves represent a natural progression of ongoing research. “Manipulation is a broad category, and we still have a lot of work to do,” he says. “But this gives a sneak peek at where the field is going. This is the future of robotics.”
Boston Dynamics has a history of pushing the boundaries of what robots are capable of, and Atlas is no exception. The company’s engineers are constantly working to improve the robot’s capabilities, and it’s likely that we’ll see even more impressive demonstrations of its skills in the future_