NOW IN OUR 10TH YEAR!
It may have fared badly in the recent robo-olympics, but Google has revealed its humanoid robot has been set free in the woods to learn how to run through terrain.
According to Google owned Boston Dynamics, Atlas is a 'high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain.
'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.'
Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, talked about the research and showed footage of the project during a talk on Aug. 3 at the 11th Fab Lab Conference and Symposium in Cambridge, Mass.
Several of the competitors on the DRC contest used the Atlas robot as a base, with teams adding their own software.
However, Boston Dynamics says its own software has taken some major steps forward since.
'We've been working on humanoid robots, derived from these models.
It has been studying the way humans and animals move in a bid to replicate, and even improve on it.
'Our focus is on balance and dynamics, working in the way animals and people do, moving quickly to avoid falling.'
Raibert revealed the forest tests had gone well.
'We're interested in getting this robot out in the world, its a totally different, you can't predict what its going to be like
'All kinds of stuff happens, and we're making pretty good progress in making it's movement sort of within shooting range of yours, and if we keep pushing we'll get there.'
Google revealed some of the technologies it hoped to developed, such as human like legs with bone-like makeup and fluid routed internally like a human leg.
The firm has also been using weights and even boxing gloves to test the robot's abilities.
Researchers have been using a boxing glove on a long pole to try and push the 6.2 foot humanoid over in a test of its balance systems.
The video reveals the robot navigating hilly terrain in a forest.
To avoid falling, it move quickly - in the same way we would.
The tests were carried out by researchers at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Interaction developed the software for the robot.
'Video demonstrating experimental push recovery and fall avoidance techniques on the Boston Dynamics Atlas Humanoid Robot at IHMC.' they entitled the clip.
'Still some work to be done :)'
The firm even said it hopes its robot will one day be more agile than humans.
In the lab, the robot is put through its paces walking and running over rocks,
The Florida team is one of several using it, and has previously programmed it to recreate a scene from the Karate Kid movie, crouching on one leg.
'To achieve this level of maneuverability in robots, researchers at IHMC look toward nature,' the team say.
'Inspired by the speed of cheetahs, the endurance of horses, the maneuverability of monkeys, and the versatility of humans, IHMC researchers are on a quest to develop legged robots that are fast, efficient, and graceful, with the mobility required to access many of the same places that humans can.'
Seven of the Atlas robots competed in a 'robo Olympics' - designed to recreate natural disasters the robots could one day be sent into.
A total of $3.5 million in prizes will now be awarded to the top three finishers in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), the final event of which will be held June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in California.
Aside from the previously announced $2 million grand prize, DARPA plans to award $1 million to the runner-up and $500,000 to the third-place team.
DARPA expects at least twenty teams to compete in the DRC Finals.
'The goal of the DRC is to generate groundbreaking research and development in hardware and software that will enable future robots, in tandem with human counterparts, to perform the most hazardous activities in disaster zones, thus reducing casualties and saving lives,' it said.
The California giant's patent says that the robot personality could replicate the robot's owner, 'a deceased loved one,' or 'a celebrity.' Above it Atlas, which according to Google-owned Boston Dynamics, is a 'high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain.
The teams using the DARPA-developed Atlas robot will use an entirely new version, which is battery powered for the first time.
Gill Pratt, of DARPA said: 'Atlas unplugged is the upgrade to allow it to run entirely on batteries.
'We have to cut the cord.'
'The new Atlas is 75% new, it has much more dexterity and is quieter, and stronger.
'The introduction of a battery and variable-pressure pump into Atlas poses a strategic challenge for teams,' said Pratt.
'The operator will be able to run the robot on a mid-pressure setting for most operations to save power, and then apply bursts of maximum pressure when additional force is needed.'
During the finals, a series of events will be held to replicate disasters.
'The finals will be very hard. We want them to be more like real disasters, the robots will have to do all these tasks in sequence with no human help.
Given their identical hardware, the Atlas teams will have to differentiate themselves through software, control interfaces, and competition strategy.
Google has even developed a system to allow robots to download new personalities online.
The system would allow machines to download them in a similar way to an app - and even have a different personality for each user.
The patent says that the personality could replicate the robot's owner, 'a deceased loved one,' or 'a celebrity,'
Google's patent details a cloud-based system where a personality could be downloaded to a robot, in the same way one might download an app.
'The robot personality may also be modifiable within a base personality construct (i.e., a default-persona) to provide states or moods representing transitory conditions of happiness, fear, surprise, perplexion (e.g., the Woody Allen robot), thoughtfulness, derision (e.g., the Rodney Dangerfield robot), and so forth,' states the patent.