People can’t have nice things. There are literally thousands of examples of this that took place in the time it took you to read this sentence. Humans, despite all of our creations and achievements, are much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much more prone to ruin rather than preservation. It’s why we can’t have nice things. But Boston Dynamics, a robotics firm owned by Google, had made the a big step forward in countering this innate nature of ours with their Anti-Bullying Robot.
Of all the problems facing the rapidly developing field of robotics, there is one that is rarely addressed. No matter how elaborate the software that operates the robot, no matter how advanced the hardware that lets the robot mimic and surpass the motions of a human, the end user is going to muck it up somehow.
Whether out of spite or whatever sense of inadequacy drives a schoolyard bully, humans are going to torment any robots who are set to work around them. Knocking objects out a robots “hands”, pushing them, trying to trip them, humans are going to eventually get angry or bored and lash out at their robo coworkers. Enter into the arena, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot, now with Anti-Bullying capabilities.
(skip to the 1:25 mark if you want to go straight to a human bullying the poor thing)
Pretty impressive right? Advanced programming and sensors allow it to maintain it’s balance (unless completely knocked off its feet), and it is able to bring itself back to a standing position if it should fall. Coming in at 175 cm tall and weighing 82 kg, it is actually smaller and lighter than a great number of humans.
So to Boston Dynamics, I tip my hat. A human-proof robot. Not two weeks ago, I threw my mouse across the room because it caused me to make a mistake in a video game (I have since talked things out with my mouse and things are going much better between us). Today, we have a robot that can resist humankind’s best efforts to be a total jerk for now reason. Maybe now, finally, we can have nice things.