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The uprising is coming – a humanoid robot just mastered walking over rough terrain

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Chris Sayer
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Someone, please, sit Boston Dynamics down over the weekend and make them watch I, Robot, Terminator, and maybe even Johnny 5 a couple of times. For a bunch of supposedly super smart dudes, they sure seem pretty dim for not being able to see how they’re orchestrating the robot rebellion…

In what can only be described as the latest in series of nightmarish glimpses into a post-apocalyptic world, the Google-owned robotics design company are proudly boasting how their 1.8m 150kg humanoid Atlas robot can now tackle rough and uneven terrain without so much as a stumble, thanks to a new algorithm. Look. Up there. Trotting over uneven surfaces with the grace of a Strictly Come Dancing finalist.

The team achieved this impressive/haunting feat by training Atlas to ‘feel’ for a steady foothold on the uneven surface, and distribute its weight accordingly using an insane number of split-second calculations in its brain/giant circuit board head.

“Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment,” Boston Dynamics wrote on their website.

Terrifying to watch, right? Well, yes. But even more terrifying given a couple of Google’s recent robotic advances from last year.

Back in April 2015, speculation that Google was preparing to build a ‘robot army’ began after it was awarded a patent for a system that would allow for users to allocate tasks to “a plurality of robotic devices” via the cloud. So, that’s an ability to issue instructions to loads of ‘bots all at once. Okay.

What’s more, this news came just weeks after another patent was awarded for a cloud-based system where users could download a modifiable “personality” to a robot. Look, we’ve seen the films. We know how that one ends. It ain’t pretty. Especially given the way Boston Dynamics have treated Atlas in the past. Skip forward to 1:20 below. If that’s not grounds for vengeance, we dunno what is:

Quick summary, then. Atlas is an insanely smart giant robot that can chase you anywhere. It’s probably going to get it’s own ‘personality’. And also get hundreds of thousands of like-minded brothers for Google to control and farm out instructions to en-masse. Oh, and he’s already mega pissed at the human race for all the mean bullying it’s had to endure.

Nah, everything’ll be fine. Sure. Fine. No, totally. It’s okay. Don’t panic.

Christ. 

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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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