This article was published on December 1, 2016

Google’s humanoid robot just mastered walking over rough terrain

Google’s humanoid robot just mastered walking over rough terrain
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Google’s humanoid robot, Atlas, finds new ways to amaze us with each update. In its latest lesson, Atlas learned how to walk over uneven terrain. Over a series of trial-and-error sessions, engineers managed to teach Atlas a skill that few robots, and even fewer humans, have mastered: walking over obstacles without falling on your face.

To accomplish this using human-like feet, the team trained Atlas to ‘feel’ for a point on an uneven surface and to begin shifting its weight accordingly to avoid toppling over once committing to a foothold.

It’s essentially the same way humans do it, although some are better at it than others. Unlike humans, robots will eventually master the task by making thousands of split-second calculations and fine-tuning each movement to move over this type of terrain with the ease of a mountain goat.

Humans, well, not so much.

I’m not saying robots will ever reach a point of self-awareness and turn on their human overlords; but when it happens, it’s Atlas we all need to worry about. I mean, look at the abuse this poor guy has suffered at the hands of his captors.

In the name of science, he’s been pushed, prodded, and bullied; it’s doubtful that a robot shrink is going to effectively manage those types of issues.

No chill

Now that Atlas can chase us down, even over rough terrain, no one is safe. It’s a good time to start formulating an escape plan. You know, just in case.

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