Today marks yet another step towards our eventual downfall. The Google Atlas robot now has the ability to stand on one leg, and replicate a popular scene from the 80’s action movie – The Karate Kid.
You remember the scene: a series of cheap moves have left the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio injured, barely able to continue the fight. After a reminder of all of the non-karate chores that Mr. Miyagi had him do, we’re left with that iconic scene: the aforementioned Karate Kid standing in the Crane pose, ready to deliver a vicious kick to the the face of any who opposed him.
Yep… Robots can do that now.
In reality, the Google Atlas Robot is an amazing piece of machinery. The 6’2″ 330 lb robot is comprised of 28 hydraulically actuated joints, stereo vision, laser range finder, kung-fu grip, death rays, and ok, only those first three things are true. This particular Atlas robot, named Ian, is able to stand on one leg, demonstrating incredible balance and control.
Boston Dynamics has high hopes for their bipedal robot:
Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces.
Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use. Atlas includes 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso.
An articulated sensor head includes stereo cameras and a laser range finder.
The current model Atlas is powered by a tethered battery, though future models will look to remove that tether. That’s when the end will truly be near. An earlier model of the Atlas robot was able to get into a car and drive, so after the tether is removed there’s practically nothing (aside from its benevolent programming, but what fun is that?) from stopping the Atlas Robot from taking over the world.
So that’s the future we have to look forward to: an army of super-articulated robots driving to our houses and kicking us in the face. If only someone would develop a Billy Zabka robot to sweep the leg before it’s too late.