Whenever there is news about strides in artificial intelligence, or a futuristic robot capable of performing various feats in the cycle, inevitable jokes about Terminator, Cyberdyne Systems, and the Matrix's robot revolution are soon to follow. However, after watching ATLAS, a disaster-response robot built by Boston Dynamics for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, jokes are no longer applicable because the future is clearly upon us. The following video demonstrates these creations are one effective artificial intelligence module away from making humans pretty much expendable.
Some things to watch for include ATLAS keeping its balance after being hit by a small wrecking ball, the way the robot can navigate stairs, and ATLAS jumping down from platform:
It should also be noted, ATLAS hasn't been declared the winner of DARPA's competition. In fact, it's still in process. In order to win, the champion robot must perform the following feats:
As part of the challenge, the teams will program their humanoid robot to accomplish a range of tasks. ATLAS will need to drive a car, navigate complicated terrain on foot and move rubble in order to enter a building. It will also have to climb stairs and use various tools to do things like turn off valves or break through concrete walls.
So yeah, if you have a nagging fear of the impending robot apocalypse, this particular finding probably won't help you sleep very well tonight. Just in case you want a little more fuel for the upcoming nightmares, ATLAS' mobility is not the only intimidating feature:
Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use. Atlas includes 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso.
To recap, there is a robot out there capable of running, jumping, climbing stairs, and has interchangeable appendages which can be outfitted with robot hands capable of using human tools; and, as indicated, ATLAS hasn't even been declared the winner, which means there may be an even more advanced model ready to make its debut for DARPA.
As for ATLAS, it's only apparent weakness is related to its power supply. According to the developers, the robot "is powered from an off-board, electric power supply via a flexible tether." That means it can be unplugged.