By now, you’ve probably seen the new video of Boston Dynamics’ updated Atlas robot: The humanoid walks around in snow, lifts boxes, takes abuse from its human overlords — you know, all the things we want our robots to do. While most outlets were concerned about how this bullying was going to cascade into a future vengeful robot army taking over the world, we at Inverse had a more pressing question to ask:
Where the hell is Boston Dynamics conducting and filming all of these outdoor robot tests?
We can see footage of the robot leaving what seems to be the front door of the company’s Waltham, Massachusetts headquarters:
The video then quickly cuts to Atlas taking a wintry amble through snow-covered woods:
Google-owned Boston Dynamics is a pretty big company, but what exactly are the chances it would have enough woodsy land on its property to take Atlas on a stroll?
Did the roboticists take the robot to nearby Prospect Hill Park? Does the city of Waltham know that Google’s premier robotics company is taking its prototypes into the public park for testing? Do members of the public just casually see humanoid (or dog-like) robots moseying through the park grounds every once in a while?
All of those questions, it turns out, are moot: It’s unlikely little Atlas was strolling about in Prospect Hill Park. Dave Kehs, a member of the Waltham Land Trust Board of Directors, says he doubts that Boston Dynamics was testing its robot in his park.
A frequent visitor to the park, Kehs says none of the scenes from the video resemble anything from the park itself. He also cites the footage at the one-minute mark where the camera films a driveway with a parked van and what’s most likely a house. “To my knowledge, this scene does not correspond to anything in or near Prospect Hill Park,” he tells Inverse.
“I also took a look at one of the other videos that features Boston Dynamics robots in an outdoor setting,” says Kehs. “That video shows the robots on some kind of roadway that goes under some power lines. Again, this is not Prospect Hill Park.”
Any agreement concerning special use of the park would have to be cleared by Waltham’s recreation board, according to Kehs. Given public safety and liability issues, he doubts Boston Dynamics would go to the lengths to pursue such an agreement.
Well, there you have it: We still don’t know where Atlas conducts its nature walks. Boston Dynamics is famously tight-lipped about everything they do — so asking the company for this information is a lost cause. The next best course of action is to run around Waltham with a picture of Atlas and ask everyone in town, “Have you seen this robot?”
Well, have you seen this robot in the wild? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.