When it comes to robots, there are essentially two camps of people. The first fears a hostile, Skynet-style takeover that results in the annihilation of the human race, while the other essentially thinks it's a risk we should be willing to take.
The robots that are currently under development serve a variety of purposes and have unique features that make each of them astounding.
The SandFlea by Boston Dynamics is able to jump 30 feet in the air, allowing it to access areas that would be unreachable for many other robots.
The RiSE robot has gecko-like feet and can scale vertical surfaces like a champ.
The Cheetah is able to recognize obstacles and jump over them effortlessly.
So what's the purpose of creating these machines? Well, aside from "because they can" and "they're really cool," robots can be used in places that are too dangerous for humans to access, like on search and rescue missions or for crossing rough terrain to bring supplies to disaster areas.
But what about the robots that look more like humans?
Meet ATLAS: a humanoid robot that has been making incredible strides in technological advancement.
Like humans, ATLAS is bipedal (meaning it walks on two feet) and swings its arms for balance. This creation from Boston Dynamics is primarily intended for search and rescue, meaning balance is critical for the robot to access dangerous sites like collapsed buildings.
Even when balancing on one foot, ATLAS is able to resist falling over when struck with an object.
This gives ATLAS the ability to cross uneven terrain.
Recently, ATLAS left the lab and was able to go through a stroll through a forest trail, highlighting its ability to get out into the real world.
However, anyone who fears ATLAS as the face of the robot uprising doesn't need to be too concerned just yet. There's a lot more research that needs to be done to get it to properly perform its intended purpose, let alone enslaving the human race.
The power source for the robot currently comes in through a tether, which means that it can't go very far on its own. Though giving it an onboard power source will give it more freedom, it generally results in reduced performance for the robot as well. The Cheetah, for instance, could run 28.3 miles per hour while tethered, but the untethered robot reached a top speed of 10 miles per hour.
Learn more about ATLAS and other robots from Boston Dynamics here:
[Header image: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)]
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