Engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics just released the latest demo footage of its humanoid robot, Atlas, assisting in a simulated construction site.
In the video, one of the Boston Dynamics workers can be seen simulating working on a scaffold, hammering metal before complaining "I forgot my tools again!"
That’s when the robot jumps into action, walking over complex terrain looking uncomfortably human.
The robot builds a path to the scaffold with pieces of wood and tosses a tool bag to the man. The automaton then performs an impressive flip off the platform. "Such a showoff," the person quips at the end.
According to the Boston Dynamics statement, the video, called "Atlas Gets a Grip," represents a natural progression of ongoing research by the robot’s team.
"We’re layering on new capabilities," said robotics researcher Ben Stephens.
"Parkour and dancing were interesting examples of pretty extreme locomotion, and now we’re trying to build upon that research to also do meaningful manipulation. It’s important to us that the robot can perform these tasks with a certain amount of human speed. People are very good at these tasks, so that has required some pretty big upgrades to the control software."
This is not the first time Boston Dynamics has released a video showing their robots reenact activities typically reserved for humans.
In 2020, the company released a video on Tuesday showing four of its robots dancing to the 1962 hit "Do You Love Me?" by The Contours, and it caught fire online.
While the dancing robot video was playful, the company has also sparked fear with other robot demonstrations making people wonder if now is the time to start kneeling to their future robot overlords.
Most notable is Spot, the four-legged robot dog which has been adopted by police agencies and has appeared in videos posted on social media that mimic a dystopian world run by a tyrannical government.
In an interview with the Associated Press in 2018, former Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert said the videos of the robots are only meant to be scary if you want them to be.
"Even though there’s a lot of blog headlines that say the robots are scary, if you look at our YouTube videos you see a lot of people like them," Raibert said. "That makes me wonder, are people really afraid? Or is it afraid like in a horror movie when you’re afraid on purpose?"
The YouTube videos started off by accident when a non-employee posted a video of the company’s BigDog pack mule robot about a decade ago, according to former employees who worked there at the time.
It got so much attention that the firm started its own YouTube channel, which now has 32 videos — one with nearly 30 million views.
The Associated Press and Storyful contributed to this story.