By Michael Kane
We’ve seen the Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics dance, do backflips, and even perform parkour. But now it’s received a new skill: the ability to pick up and throw objects.
In a new video, the Atlas robot is seen carrying a tool bag up some scaffolding and then throwing it to a human construction worker who’s standing on a simulated construction site. The demonstration requires Atlas to use its sensors and a large variety of capabilities to navigate the site while remaining balanced.
In the video, the Atlas robot first picks up and places a large wooden plank to act as a bridge over the construction site. The machine then proceeds to walk over the plank after picking up the tool bag with its two hands.
Atlas then spins and tosses the tool bag at the human construction worker’s feet. After that, the machine pushes a wooden block out of its way, and ends the demonstration by performing a 540-degree flip to jump off the construction site.
Boston Dynamics says the demo shows how Atlas could help human construction workers in practical ways. “We’re layering on new capabilities,” says Atlas controls lead Ben Stephens. “Parkour and dancing were interesting examples of pretty extreme locomotion, and now we’re trying to build upon that research to also do meaningful manipulation.”