Google-owned Boston Dynamics has shown off a 6ft-tall robot called Atlas being tested in the wild.
Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert released footage (below) at a conference in Massachusetts of the robot strolling over difficult surfaces in a lab and then being taken outside for a stroll in some woods.
"We've been working on humanoid robots," said Raibert. "We're interested in getting this robot out in the world. Out in the world is a totally different challenge than in the lab. You can't predict what it's going to be like."
The robot does not have complete autonomy given that it needs to be attached to a power cable, but it is equipped with stereo cameras and a rangefinder to effectively perceive and navigate its surroundings.
Raibert explained that Boston Dynamics is working on a way to allow the robot to carry its power source independently.
Boston Dynamics was acquired by Google in 2013, and has been working on a robot that mimics the movements of animals and humans and uses rapid movements to remain stable when crossing uneven surfaces.
"We're making pretty good progress on making it so it has mobility that's sort of within shooting range of yours. I'm not saying it can do everything you can do, but you can imagine if we keep pushing we'll get there," said Raibert.
"Our focus is on balance and dynamics, working in the way animals and people do, moving quickly to avoid falling."
He also explained that Atlas can stabilise itself and balance on one leg if hit or kicked in the side, putting its 28 hydraulic joints to use.
This is probably not something Elon Musk would like to hear given his fear of artificial intelligence rising up to enslave or destroy humanity, so he would probably not approve of people aggravating robots with a kick in the metallic shins. Bill Gates is also likely to share his concerns.
Boston Dynamics primarily makes robots with funding from US government agencies, which can be deployed for military use and in hazardous conditions unsuitable for humans.
Several of its robots resemble mechanical animals, so rather than follow Steve Wozniak's fears that humans may become the pests of robs, perhaps the opposite will happen and homes of the future will feature robotic dogs and cats.
The advancements in robotics alongside continued work on AIs by the technology industry may have some people concerned about its impact, but perhaps the rise if the machines will not necessarily mean the destruction of humanity.
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