Washington, D.C.: Early this week, US Robotics company Boston Dynamics unveiled its latest project, Atlas, a bipedal robot that can traverse rough terrain and will maintain its balance on one leg, even when pushed from the side.
“It’s really amazing what this robot can do,” said project manager Marc Raibert. “We’ve made great strides in robotic technology with Atlas, from robots that can look really weird walking on treadmills to a robot that you can’t push over.” Raibert added that Atlas also cannot be pushed around verbally, stating, “Atlas don’t take none from nobody.”
Raibert stated that the company’s next steps with Atlas were to install a cupholder so that the robot might “serve us drinks like R2D2 in Return of the Jedi,” and to also have it jump up and down on a Tempur Pedic mattress with a glass of wine at the foot of the bed to see if it spills.
In addition to Atlas, Boston Dynamics also showed off WildCat, a robot that is designed to move as creepily as possible. “We developed WildCat to move like a quadriped animal, but mostly to gallop really, really creepily. We also made sure that turning around and other movements would be generally very unsettling to look at it,” Raibert said. “It’s perfect.”
In addition to robots that can move just recognizably enough to understand the developer’s intent but so creepily that it non-subtly reminds us of the pure inorganic coldness of what we are looking at, Boston Dynamics intends to unveil more projects in the coming weeks.
“We’ve added such a range of human patterns and behaviors, along with weird, creepy movement to our projects over the years,” Raibert said, gesturing to a whiteboard covered in flow charts of the various aspects Boston Dynamics hope to assign to their next robots. “Our main goal here at Boston Dynamics is to get to the uncanny valley and then just sit there forever.”
As of press time, most researches at Boston Dynamics had assembled in one conference room, stating that they couldn’t be in their research lab as Atlas was walking on a treadmill and it was just, “too spooky.”