Atlas Robot Drops Boxes in Newly Released TED Talk Footage

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Boston Dynamics and YouTube user: TED

Boston Dynamics makes some of the most advanced robots in the world, but even its machines have weaknesses. Footage from a newly-released TED Talk given by founder Marc Raibert in April shows the company’s bipedal Atlas robot performing some remarkable human-like maneuvers — and one stunning blunder.

Atlas is the company’s ever-evolving humanoid. The version depicted in this TED Talk is the third-generation Atlas, weighing 190 pounds and standing about 5’9’’ tall. A description of the robot, per Boston Dynamics:

“A new version of Atlas, designed to operate outdoors and inside buildings. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain and help with navigation.”

After explaining some mechanical basics, Raibert shows footage of some of the tricks his company’s robots can do. He plays video of Atlas moving boxes at about two-thirds the speed of a person:

Which one is the humanoid?

Boston Dynamics and YouTube user: TED

“This robot is using both hands, it’s using its body, it’s stepping,” Raibert says, “so it’s really an example of dynamic stability, mobile manipulation, and mobile perception.”

Boston Dynamics actually has two Atlases, and they can move boxes together:

What a team.

Boston Dynamics and YouTube user: TED

All of those moves are pretty darn human-like, but guess what’s the most human action of all? Making a mistake. Check this out:

We've all been there, Atlas.

Boston Dynamics and YouTube user: TED

“Everything doesn’t go exactly the way it’s supposed to,” Raibert says.

Need more of an Atlas fix? Watch the Boston Dynamics team taunt the humanoid with a hockey stick and see it walk in the wild. And check out the whole TED Talk below.

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