Last week, DARPA introduced the world to ATLAS – a robot that walks like a man, and can regain its balance after being hit by a 20 lb. wrecking ball. The original video may not have instilled enough terror into you, however, so here’s another to make sure you understand the ramifications of DARPA creating a nigh invincible robot.
IEEE Spectrum recently had a chance to take a closer look at ATLAS to find out what makes this robot so special. Boston Dynamics, the company making the robot for DARPA, says that the sensors in its head can process one gigabit of data per second which allows it to make split second decisions regarding how to walk and hold things.
ATLAS will be one of the robots participating in DARPA’s robot challenge in December. At this event, robots will have to overcome a number of challenges, including climbing ladders and driving vehicles, to prove that it could one day assist humans in disaster situations, like a nuclear meltdown.
That’s all well and good, but ATLAS is still pretty intimidating. They might want to make it a little more approachable if they expect people to trust the robot with their lives. My only suggestion is to ignore Disney’s attempt at making robots more personable – robot clowns are always scary.