Google pulled one of the best tricks in the history of science yesterday: it did not only build a hugely – sized robot, but it blessed it with the power of vertical position, movement and balance. The Google Karate Robot proves once again that Google is not only a visionary tech company, but that it can also turn its visions into reality.
The now Google – owned company Boston Dynamics has been working on this project since 2013. The Atlas Robot was revealed last year and it impressed everybody with its spectacular size, its human – like legs, composure and frame, but it stood up and moved just like a robot: unnatural and clumsily. It took Google and its partners an entire year to turn a chunk of metal into a futuristic superhero that can do a fine kick and a very complex series of actions.
The hottest news of the day is that the Google Karate Robot, as it was called in the last hours, managed to do what none other robot did before: it pulled a perfect Karate Kid – style crane, balancing on one foot atop a cinder-blocks stack, with its other knee bent to the chest and arms lifted in the shape of wings.
People wondered why was it necessary for Google to invest such amount of money, effort and intelligence in a metallic monster that can show off a few ninja – movie tricks, but it is more than tricks that Atlas comes up with. Imagine that it is hard for an untrained human to keep his balance on one foot, while standing on a pile of blocks.
Now imagine a 300lb robot can do this and much more: Atlas can also walk, climb stairs, avoid obstacles, bend and kick, turn and lift his head, raise its arms and flip them like a bird and make fluid moves with the help of its 28 joints.
The Google Karate Robot was built and upgraded to this state of technological art because he is a worthy contender in a competition: the DARPA Grand Challenge of this year will decide if Atlas is going to win, as last year, it came second in the same contest.
The main goal of Atlas is to prove to the world that it can respond in a human – like manner to disasters and to perform human – like actions of search and rescue. Its now new mobility and balance features make it an interesting alternative to human intervention, especially in those situations when people need to be rescued from disaster sites that can’t be accessed in full safety.