SCIENCE

Here's A Humanoid Robot Taking A Walk In The Woods

Don't worry: It didn't escape the lab.

Ladies and gentlemen, Atlas has left the building.

The Boston Dynamics humanoid robot, which was prominently featured in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, took a stroll in the Massachusetts woods in footage posted online Saturday. The video was originally shared during a robotics panel earlier this month at MIT's Fab Lab conference. 

It was a change of scenery for the two-legged robot, which previously negotiated obstacles in a lab setting. Its makers say taking on the great outdoors is an important step in the robot's development. 

"We're interested in getting this robot out in the world," Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert said during his presentation. "All kinds of stuff happens out there. You can't predict what it's going to be like."

Researchers at the company, which was purchased by Google in 2013, are interested in testing balance and dynamics in robots. They're perhaps best known for their four-legged bots, Big Dog and Spot.

Atlas isn't yet as graceful as his quadrupedal cousins -- its gait is shuffling, and it still requires a power cable to get around outside -- but Raibert said that could change soon enough.

"I'm not saying it can do everything you can do," Raibert said. "But you can imagine if we keep pushing we'll get there."

 A team using Running Man, an Atlas robot by Boston Dynamics, recently walked away with the $1 million second-place prize in the DRC finals in June. 

DARPA organized the robotics challenge in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, during which radiation levels made it impossible for workers to shut down critical systems.

The goal is to enable robots controlled remotely by humans to use tools and operate machines in similarly hazardous scenarios. While the robots still move slowly and have a tendency to fall down, significant progress has been made.

Plus, Atlas can do this: 

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