Article by Will Knight, MIT Technology Review
New humanoid robots will compete in a contest designed to test the ability of machines to take on extremely dangerous and high-stakes human jobs.The latest innovation from the U.S. Defense Department’s research agency, DARPA, is a humanoid robot called Atlas that looks as if it could’ve walked straight off the set of the latest Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster.
In fact, Atlas is designed to eventually take on some of the most dangerous and high-stakes jobs imaginable, such as tending to a nuclear reactor during a meltdown, shutting off a deep-water oil spill, or helping to put out a raging wildfire. And if Atlas proves itself at such daredevil tasks, then one of its descendants might one day be allowed to do something just as important: help take care of the elderly and infirm.
Atlas was unveiled on Thursday at Boston Dynamics, a company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that has already developed an impressive menagerie of robotic beasts, some with funding from the Department of Defense, including a headless robot pack mule called LS3, a gecko-like, wall-climbing bot called RiSE, and a four-legged machine called Cheetah capable of bounding along at 29 miles per hour.