So now Boston Dynamics has invented a robot named Atlas that can do backflips. I would ask the inane question of ‘are we trying to phase out humanity?’ but I know that’s not the case. It’s a pretty interesting development that has come a long way since robots were having troubles just ascending a flight of stairs. Now one of them is doing backflips like it’s no big deal. This might make a lot of people nervous be honest but the fact is that there’s still a long way to go before Atlas and any successors to come before they could be considered a genuine threat to the human race. So we’ll stop panicking and enjoy our futuristic movies where Atlas’s more advanced cousins attempt to subjugate the human race and obliterate any resistance.
The reason I say this is that while the backflip attempted and successfully performed by Atlas is impressive it’s also possible for the robot to stumble and fall occasionally as has happened during its trial runs. In many ways the robot is a marvel, a leap forward if you will in robotics in overall design and function. Using 3D printers to maximize the efficiency and form of the robot Boston Dynamics have been seeing massive improvements in their experiments and are likely working on new and exciting ways to make Atlas do even more cool stuff. But the backflip is what people are talking about right now and for good reason.
There is a clip out there that shows Atlas landing hard and then pitching forward, off balance into the block it flipped from. This shows that it’s not infallible, but the mere fact that the robot has managed to stick the landing more than once now is something to raise your eyebrows at. Think about what it takes for a human being to do this, a body that’s more lithe, flexible, and able to bend and twist as is required. Now think about something big and bulky like a robot that has a rather tough time just walking. A backflip is a monumental achievement that is going to pull down a lot of acclaim. Just as soon as it comes though it goes, as Atlas is to many like walking toy that can do the things it’s programmed to do and little more.
That shouldn’t diminish the fact that Atlas has managed to outpace a good many robots that have come before it and is no doubt going to be upgraded and updated continually through its existence. There might come a time when Atlas is no longer useful but that’s going to be a ways off since its creators are no doubt going to do whatever they can to tweak and fine-tune Atlas until they find that they can’t do any more.
So don’t start loading up for the apocalypse just yet, there’s still a lot of things that humans are capable of that robots aren’t. For starters, if needs be we can hit the OFF switch.
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