Wed, 03 Mar 2021

One of a Kind Entertainers: The Boston Dynamic Robots

11 Feb 2021, 02:02 GMT+10

If you haven't heard about it or seen it yet, the Boston Dynamic Robots had a blast on the 1962s The Contours rock and roll hit: 'Do You Love Me?' and it left everyone mesmerized to say the least. Of course, this event is more than pure entertainment, it shows us how much these robots have developed and how similar they are getting to us.

So, put aside your mobile or online casino games for a moment and marvel at the evolution of today's artificial intelligence.

We know, it almost makes you believe that this is CGI, like many others, but we assure you that this has nothing to do with special effects or anything like that, it is simply real. Apart from the technological evolution, we also have to admit that the moves are actually pretty good! At this point, they surely are more talented than most of us when it comes to dancing.

What are these robots and how did it happen?

The actions you see in this short video are the result of more than a year and a half of work: upgrading, coding, simulating and some professional choreography.

The robots involved are two Atlases, Spot and Handle. Atlas are humanoid Agile Anthropomorphic Robots, designed to help in various search and rescue missions. If one of the first thoughts that crossed your mind when you saw the video was 'Wow, they seem big', well, you're right. They are 183 cm tall, or 6-foot. Therefore, they can be quite unstoppable. But it isn't only the height that makes them so powerful, it's also their capabilities, which we've seen how much they evolved. If before their biggest breakthrough was doing parkour, now we can observe that they are able to perform even more sophisticated tasks, and their movements are much more fluent.

Spot, on the other hand, is a canine-inspired robot that weighs just about 25 kg, or 55 pounds. His first breakthrough was when it was able to open a door for another fellow robot. From there on, it kept evolving, ending up being a robot cop for the Massachusetts State Police in 2019. As surprising as it might be, this performance is not actually its first performance: in the middle of 2020, a whole team of Spots performed as cheerleaders at a baseball game. Mixing business with pleasure, it seems.

Last but not least, Handle is a robot developed for research purposes, which has two flexible legs on wheels and two so-called 'hands' that can be used to carry or manipulate objects. It can also reach a height of 2 m, or or 6.5 feet, travel at 14 km/h, or 9 miles per hour and jump 1.2 m, or 4 feet vertically. The special thing about it is that even though it has many similar abilities to the other robots, it is far less complex in terms of build. His beautiful choreography showed us just how delicate it can be.

How is the future of robotics influenced by all this?

Behind the flawless performance are motion-programming tools for balance and bouncing that have been developed during the process. This fun project actually determined a huge step forward for rapid-generation tools that integrate movement in AI. Apart from the fact that the team behind this event won't have to ever hire an entertainer for their office parties again, the evolution met here will be detrimental to developing even more effective, humanlike moving robots.

The biggest lesson here is that we need to accept that robots will continue evolving even faster than we might expect, and that future such achievements are totally possible and they shouldn't take us by surprise. Behind all the fun and games, we witnessed some huge milestones being achieved that will redefine how we use robots in our society. Their appliances will keep growing, improving our lives along the way.

What do you think? Do you see this evolution as a step forward for the world at large, or do you see it as a threat? We are curious to know your opinion on this situation. Which one it might be, you do have to admit that above all things, the dance couldn't help but bring a smile on your face!

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