Alphabet’s Robot Comes Alive


Google’s parent company has created a new and improved robot and showed off what it can do in a video.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Alphabet Inc. released a video this week that showcases the new look and improved functionality of the latest version of its humanoid robot, called Atlas.

While previous incarnations of Atlas, notes WSJ, were about six-feet tall, weighed 330 pounds and had to operate while remaining connected to a separate power source, a caption in the recently released video explains that the updated Atlas is about five feet nine inches, weighs 180 pounds and runs on batteries. Additionally, Alphabet has stated that the new Atlas is able to achieve balance via sensors in its legs and body, while lasers and optical sensors in the robot’s head help it to navigate and avoid obstacles.

Alphabet developers appear in the video, shown putting Atlas through the paces (as it were), knocking objects out of the robot’s “hands” and even pushing the humanoid machine to the ground. In each instance depicted, Atlas recovers and carries on, walking through environments ranging from the outside of Alphabet’s offices to a snowy forest.

The WSJ story points out that the newest version of Atlas resembles one developed by Boston Dynamics — which was purchased by Google in 2013 and had, before moving into the commercial space, developed robots for the U.S. military — for academic teams to use in a challenge hosted last year by the Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA).