Boston Dynamics’ Atlas — the world’s most advanced humanoid robot — is learning some new tricks. The company finally gave Atlas the right hands and in Boston Dynamics latest youtube video, Atlas is trying to do some real work. He also left the other one behind the scenes video It shows some of the works included in the atlas. And when things don’t go our way, we see some spectacular hits in the robot’s efforts to develop humanoid robotics.
As a humanoid robot, Atlas is mostly focused on movement, starting with walking around a lab, then walking across every imaginable unstable terrain, then doing some action. sick parkour tricks. The movement is all about the legs, and the upper half seems to be mostly an afterthought, with the arms only being used to swing around for balance. Atlas didn’t even exist before hands –The last time we saw him, he had only two incomplete-looking ball catchers at the ends of his arms.
This newest iteration of the robot has actual grippers. They are simple gripper type hands with a wrist and a single action finger, but that’s good enough for picking things up. The purpose of this video is to move “inertially significant” objects – not just light boxes, but objects heavy enough to unbalance the Atlas. This includes things like a large board, a bag full of tools, and two 10-pound barbells. Atlas learns all about these “equal and opposite forces” in the world.
Like everything in robotics, picking up and moving an object is more complicated than it seems. Atlas has to figure out where the world is in relation to the object it’s picking up, devise a grip plan for the hands, and lift and manipulate the object while calculating how that extra mass will affect its balance. . As Boston Dynamics software engineer Robin Deitz explains in the video, “When we’re trying to manipulate something like a plank, we have to make some pretty educated guesses about where the plank is, how fast it’s moving, and how we’re supposed to move it. We’re going to cause the plank to turn 180 degrees very quickly. move the arms to be, and if we get those guesses wrong, we’ll do stupid things and fall.”
Atlas doesn’t just crudely pick things up and carry them. Runs, jumps and spins while carrying heavy objects. He jumps at once and throws heavy toolbox up to the construction partner without losing balance. He also does all this on dilapidated scaffolding and makeshift wooden walkways, so the ground is constantly moving under Atlas’s feet with every step. Picking things up is just the beginning of teaching the robot actual work, and it looks right at home on a rough construction site. Simple claw grips mean the Atlas will crush anything it picks up, but things like wood show visible damage where the hands dig into them. Perhaps the next set of experiments will teach Atlas to be less of a big gorilla.
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