Boston Dynamics continues to push the boundaries of what is possible with humanoid robots with the latest demo of its Atlas robot. The robot has already impressed with its ability to run and jump over complex terrain, but now it has something even more impressive: hands. These rudimentary grippers give the robot new life, allowing it to pick up and drop off anything it can grab independently.
The claw-like gripper consists of one fixed finger and one moving finger. Boston Dynamics says the grippers were designed for heavy lifting tasks and were first demonstrated in a Super Bowl commercial where Atlas held a keg over its head. The videos released by the company show the grippers picking up construction lumber and a nylon tool bag, forming a bridge and dashing over it.
The highlight of the demo comes when the Atlas picks up a bag of tools and throws it a considerable distance to the second level of a construction structure. The move, described as an “inverted 540-degree, multi-axis flip,” adds asymmetry to the robot’s movement and makes it a much more difficult skill than previously performed parkour.
Boston Dynamics’ Atlas is a research platform and is not currently available for purchase. However, the company’s success with the robot has made it the star of many viral videos and effectively demonstrated the company’s robotic capabilities. In the small world of humanoid robotics, few competitors have shown similar capabilities as the Atlas, with NASA’s Robonaut being one of the only other examples of a robot with hand-like grippers.
Overall, the latest demo of the Atlas robot demonstrates Boston Dynamics’ continued progress in the field of humanoid robotics, and the potential for these robots to perform a wide range of tasks. It’s an exciting time for robotics and the possibilities are endless.