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Boston Dynamics’ newest robot is sure to give you nightmares

by Eric Frederiksen | February 14, 2018February 14, 2018 10:30 am PST

While Google and neural network researchers are hard at work setting up the perfect conditions for Skynet, it’s Boston Dynamics we’ll have to thank if the Terminator films’ iconic machines ever march.

Their robots can walk, jump, and flip – usually tethered to a power cord. You might remember one of their four-legged beasts getting kicked around and looking altogether too similar to the monsters in the PlayStation 4 game Horizon Zero Dawn.

Now, though, one’s escaped according to this distressing security footage from the company:

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. It’s actually pretty amazing that these creations can lope around and look so alive doing it.

The story in this video is that one of the company’s dog-type bots, SpotMini, has come up against an obstacle it can’t overcome: a door. So the newest version of Spot comes to the rescue, moving its complex arm, with multiple points of reticulation, to not only grasp the doorknob, but turn it enough to open it, and then hold it open so its friend can go through before it follows.

That incredibly simple-sounding series of actions is a pretty wild set of actions for a robot to perform on its own. Each time Boston Dynamics releases a new creation, it impresses once again.

And the company is testing its creations outside of sterile labs where things easily be color-coded, programmed in, or otherwise cheated on. Boston Dynamics’ CEO Marc Raibert said at TED 2017 that they’re visiting employees homes.

“We’ve been taking our robot to our employees’ homes to see whether we could get in the various access ways. We’re doing very well – about 70% of the way,” Raibert said.

Note that he didn’t say employees are taking the robots home – they’re taking the robots to employees homes. A cute experiment, or a reminder that your boss can march soulless robots into your home at will?

The applications for these sorts of robots are endless. Venturing into areas unsafe for humans, like the still-deadly depths of Chernobyl would be one possibility for Spot. Eventually these robots could participate in rescue efforts to more current disasters or perform those extra-deadly tasks humans really shouldn’t be doing.

Or, marching forth with glowing, red eyes and high-powered assault weapons. You know, either way.

Wired

Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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