Remember the humanoid robots from the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals? They couldn’t take two steps without falling all over themselves. Well, Boston Dynamics is showing just how far the technology has come in three years. And it’s putting that competition, and its participants, to shame.
Waltham, Mass.-based Boston Dynamics released new videos of its Atlas humanoid and SpotMini. And, boy, are they impressive. Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert is keynoting our Robotics Summit & Showcase (May 23-24 in Boston) and will be touching upon the developments you’re about to see in the videos below. He will also conduct a live demo of SpotMini. Raibert’s keynote, “Building Dynamics Robots,” will take attendees under the hood of the company’s biped and quadruped robots that jump, run, balance and even do backflips.
The newest Atlas video shows the bipedal robot running through a grassy field, conquering difficult terrain, and jumping over a log. Atlas’ jogging gait doesn’t exactly resemble a human’s due to the robot’s flight phase, but it’s still pretty darn impressive. That jump isn’t as impressive as doing a backflip, but overall Atlas’ motion is fluid and is tether-free, which is nothing to shake a stick at. Really makes that DARPA challenge look like amateur hour, doesn’t it?
Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini Autonomous Navigation
The newest SpotMini video is just as impressive. Here’s Boston Dynamics’ description of what you’ll see:
“SpotMini autonomously navigates a specified route through an office and lab facility. Before the test, the robot is manually driven through the space so it can build a map of the space using visual data from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the robot.
“During the autonomous run, SpotMini uses data from the cameras to localize itself in the map and to detect and avoid obstacles. Once the operator presses ‘GO’ at the beginning of the video, the robot is on its own. Total walk time for this route is just over 6 minutes. (The QR codes visible in the video are used to measure performance, not for navigation.)”
We know doors with handles are no longer an issue for SpotMini, apparently stairs aren’t either. Interestingly, notice that SpotMini has to walk backwards down the stairs as it’s the optimal orientation for its knees. Autonomous navigation isn’t all that groundbreaking, but it’s great to see SpotMini take that next step and ditch the remote controls.
Raibert will address these developments, and conduct a live demo of SpotMini, at our Robotics Summit later this month. Boston Dynamics creates the most compelling robots in the world, and Robotics Summit attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at how these robots are built and where they’re headed.
We hope to see you in Boston! Please reach out to me if you have any questions.