ADSactly Tech News - A Closer Look at the Robots of Boston Dynamics!

in robotics •  8 months ago

ADSactly Tech News: A Closer Look at the Robots of Boston Dynamics!

Image Source: Wired

  • News often sensationalizes new technologies and they really haven't progressed as far as we may give them credit for.

  • There's no need to fear robots like Atlas and SpotMini. They are a long way away from being able to take over the world according to experts.

The field of robotics is constantly expanding and improving upon techniques learned from previous design concepts. We have seen a lot of hoopla coming out of this field in the past few years with names like Boston Dynamics, Honda and Toyota often making the news for the latest and greatest in robotic technologies.

Personally I was amazed at some of the robots that made the news in 2017. I was most impressed with Toyota's T-HR3 and Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot. The thing about Boston Dynamics that really impresses me is the speed at which they are coming out with new models and the features each new robot is equipped with!

Of course when Boston Dynamics hits the news with a new robot it causes a viral buzz on social media every time it posts a new video of one of its robots moving around the lab.

Then people start screaming that its the first sign of the inevitable robo-pocalypse! Fortunately, with a little advice from experts, you can see much of that panic is just based on the hype and not the facts. The bottom line is that Boston Dynamics is doing outstanding work in the field of robotics and in this article I'm going to try to seperate some of the hype from the facts.

So lets get started here shall we? Firstly, if you want to behave like a robotics expert when you watch one of these new release robot videos, you'll need to become more critical. If you look a bit deeper, you'll notice that Boston Dynamics is a private company and not an academic entity. You'd be surprised how rare it is to actually see the company publish its findings.

This makes it hard to know what's really going on inside the robots. "We have an idea about what approaches they are using" says Ioannis Havoutis, a researcher in robotics focusing on leg locomotion at the Oxford Robotics Institute, "but apart from a few papers, we can only guess what they are doing."

Take a look at this video below to see some amazing robots in action!

Ok, so far we have learned that things aren't always what they seem and that robot hype and robot fact may not go hand in hand. One reason we shouldn't panic about what we are seeing is because for robots to actually gain proficiency in most fields they will have to be able to overcome complex challenges with little margin for error. So if we start by understanding the calculations and margins involved in the robots' activities its easy to see that Boston Dynamics' robots have a larger margin of error than most robots are given.

"Boston Dynamics do not worry about sub-millimetre accuracy, they worry about the functional accuracy," says Thrishantha Nanayakkara, reader in design engineering and robotics at Imperial College London. "[Atlas] is metastable, so it's stable most of the time. There is a probability that it can go wrong, and they take that chance. Most robots we know in the industry don't take that chance." Being metastable means Atlas has to balance itself to stay upright, just like a human.

But even Atlas' backflip only requires "a very crude calculation to make the jump." "Then when it lands, it makes the corrections. It doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough."

So we can see that BD is kind of cheating right? Boston Dynamics' has many experiments involving movement. This can include irregular or tricky terrain like grass or snow. As a result robots can be designed with an even greater margin.

"There is no need for precision there," says Nanayakkara. "The important thing is to finish the calculation within the deadline."

In the case of BigDog, one of the firm's earlier machines, the calculation is working out how to stay upright, and the deadline is the moment when it can no longer right itself and then falls over.

Well, BigDog is certainly impressive! In robotics terms having enough time can be a lot different than human terms. Keep in mind calculations can be made in milliseconds!

Image Source: Boston Dynamics

Another thing that should be stated is that most of the things we see Boston Dynamic's robots doing in video aren't completely autonomous! Stating this even more clearly, Boston Dynamics' robots aren't usually completing these actions alone, they are usually getting outside help in the videos we see.

According to experts, it is no secret that human help is still very much needed. "It's mostly done by humans and remote control, but there is onboard computing happening," Nanayakkara explains. "There are some very nice controllers, but it has some assistance from remote interference. There is a human in the loop, but there is an element of autonomy."

Havoutis seems to mainly agree with the statement above. "These robots are not autonomous in the sense that we are autonomous. They follow a well-defined set of routines, they don't have the ability to decide on their own what to do.

"You can see in the SpotMini video that the robot can make out where the handle of the door is, but it's been commanded to go through that door or there's another level of planning that sets its course of action."

The day that these robots no longer need to be told what to do is a day we should probably worry about! But for now most actions are scripted and therefore human intervention is still very much required!

Image Source: Boston Dynamics

So why to people get so scared when they watch these Boston Dynamics robo-sensational videos? Well its probably human nature! Humans are always trying to personify robots. "As humans we tend to think of them as 'live' things instead of machines because they look familiar; Atlas looks like a person, and SpotMini looks like a dog," Havoutis says.

Havoutis expanded on this idea by referring to a video featuring Atlas trying to pick up a box. While the robot tried to pick up the box, a Boston Dyamics employee moved it out of reach and pushed the robot with a hockey stick.

"A lot of people thought that this was cruel and inhumane. It looks kind of disturbing because we've associated the human form with humans but it's a robot doing what it's programmed and designed for. It doesn't feel sad when the box slips away!"

Nanayakkara believes there will always be room for robots and humans to coexist. Even if robots take over a large proportion of manufacturing jobs, this will likely elevate the value of humans. "Human value is not in the body, it is in the mind," he says.

I definitely agree with the statement above but have to admit that downplaying humanity's role in directing technology is unwise. We must be active in both our research and the actions we take as a result of learning where things like AI, gene editing and robotics are going. Are they going in a direction that we want to see them go? If so, then great... But if we see signs of foul play we must unite and speak out against them. We must act.

Havoutis takes time to discuss the fear that many humans have when it comes to the prospect of robots becoming increasingly under the control of "evil" individuals or groups. "These can be used in a bad manner, but it's the same thing with every other technology. It can be used for good and it can be used for bad. There are a lot of positives that we can expect from developing robotic technology."

For Nanayakkara, Boston Dynamics is pulling off "a trick" when it comes to showing off the competency of its machines. "They are picking up very difficult problems even for humans to deal with and then demonstrating the capability of robots to deal with this. It shouldn't be generalised to everything. We understand how to solve very complex dynamic problems, but it doesn't mean we understand the mind."

I agree with Nanayakkara for the most part and knew that the videos only show a small part of a greater picture. However, based on what I have seen so far I do also believe their is cause for concern. Things are progressing far faster then I ever believed possible.

Image Source: Boston Dynamics

I hope this article has put some potential worries at ease and has shown another side to this sensational trend of showing off brand new robots for the masses to ooooh and ahhhh at!

When the next Boston Dynamics video goes viral, hopefully my readers will be able to watch it more critically and ask questions like 'have these results been published in any academic papers yet?'

Certainly admiring the skilled engineering that goes into these robots is fair play. They are quite impressive after all. However there is always a chance things can go wrong. Most of these robots couldn't do what they do alone. We may however see more employment woes when Boston Dynamics' machines leave the lab and seek their fortune in the outside world but we will just have to face that fact when and if we ever get to that point.

As an ADSactly reader do you feel the concept of robot overlords disturbs you? Do you think we have any cause for concern about that possible dystopian reality coming to life in the future?

What did you think about this article and is there another technology topic that you'd like to read about more in my next article?

Here's a chance for the @ADSactly community to leave their thoughts and opinions on this topic!

Thanks for reading.

Authored by: @techblogger

In-text citations sources:

"What’s really going on in those Boston Dynamics robot videos?" - Wired

Image Sources: Wired, Boston Dynamics, Pexels

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Boston Dynamics robots look so weird..This weirdness is probably caused by the uncanny valley.

In order to solve the problems of locomotion, the Boston Dynamics robots are starting to move like animals and people.

This movement is both lifelike - and yet not perfectly so. As human beings we are expert at spotting life, but are disturbed by small difference from perfection.

So robots which look almost alive are more troubling than mechanical motions.

Amazing dog robots! I like the way they interacted. They must have been connected wirelessly in order to do that. I wonder if you need to connect things wirelessly as well so the robot can easily find them. If you want the robot to find a hammer in the toolbox, it would have to look around first to find the toolbox and it may take some time.


They are not necessarily connected if they use AI. i don't know if they are intelligent, but they can be

I follow the achievements in the development of artificial intelligence and robotics. Boston Dynamics is one of the most famous and progressive robotics companies. I admire their latest achievements (they taught the robot to do somersaults). This is the company that in the past bought coproparation Google. But after a certain time they were bought by a Japanese company. (if I'm wrong in righting).
Nevertheless, I am personally impressed by their success. Initially, these robots were designed for military purposes. But now they are moving in different directions. Robot-dog (various sizes and with different functions). But most amazing humanoid robots. It is because of such robots some are afraid of them. (compare with terminator).
But the point is that the artificial intellect will look different. In films, we are frightened that robots will walk the streets and they will enslave people. In fact, we hear daily about such things as "smart watches", "smart aatomobiles", "smart TVs". and so on. That is, artificial intelligence is not something that will be focused in humanoid robots. This is not true. Artificial intelligence is everywhere, not just in robots. Therefore, some people are mistaken.
In the near future, we will be surprised by new opportunities. Technological progress is excellent.
Thank you for the interesting article.

I think that in order to aliviate fear it is important for people to be informed. In order to do that they need to take the time to educate themselves about what’s really going on with these technologies and how much the AI is actually in control. It is in human nature to fear that which we know nothing of. Unfortunately it is also in our nature to spread fear and misinformation. The problem is that most people, your average citizen, are not going to take the time to seek out this information and educate themselves. That’s why it is so important that these robotic companies recognize this issue and take the time to make more people aware. There must be a way to get this knowledge out to the general public without divulging all your proprietary secrets. The reality is, if people continue to fear and fear escalates then there will be a potential for backlash. Knowledge and education are alway an important key to maintaining balances d reduce fear.


Making people afraid is far from the intended goal I place on my technology writing, rather it is making my readers more aware of what is going on in terms of technology and the advancements being made so they can be better informed and develop a perspective that is based on facts before speaking or taking action...


That why your articles are so useful. So many people will just hear about something on the news and come up with their own assumptions based on very little factual info. You’re bridging the gaps.

Industrial Robotic technology has been in the there for few decades even during my employment days in semiconductors industry. The artcile seems to disclosed that it has emerged into commercial usage by Dynamic corp.
Incidentally, I have seen video clips of nicely design robotic human serving in the restaurants. We even have it in Malaysia in a restaurant. These "human robots" has various designs and models. Most common type are those welcome you when you walked into the restaurant and wishing you safe journey when you leave.
The latest are Human robots that take order in front of you . I hae not seen it myself but my classmate who is the distributors for theese robots tole me tthat these robots can even communicte with you.
Can they read our minds for what we want to talk ??
Anyway, this article opens up more technique knowledge about robots

I'd rather not be controlled by robots. They will become a sinister part of evolution

A.I./robotics is the next big industry

Good post vi .

In the future, robots will be a part of our every day life...


I agree, and to some extend, it is happening now

Nice work bro!

Yes it absolutely does worry me.

Did you hear about Flippy the robot burger flipper?

Most food, auto (trucking etc, delivery, finance jobs can be fully autonomised by robots. And obviously that’s not an exhaustive list. So what happens to all that displaced labour?

I don’t believe we will end up with some benevolent government who will redistribute all the wealth saved from having robots do everything. This coupled with rising issues from pollution and overpopulation has the potential to be devastating if we don’t talk about it and come up with an action plan!


Yes, I've written an article about Flippy actually. Seems you know whats going on out there in the world of robotics at the moment!


Thats not what I am worried about. A newly documentation about AI made me guesbumps. AI in combination with robotics and genetic modification really scares me. I belive in the general good side in human nature and I am shure they will program a good AI. But where there is good there is evel, so somewhen somewhere there will appear an evil AI. And an advanced AI will come faster than we think....if not there yet in secret. How could we tell if so?


What a time to be alive, we are at a point where we have the power to create something that will pamper us, complete all the hard tasks for us whether they be manual labour or mental calculations. We could be on the brink of improving human quality of life beyond any point in history, giving people more time to do things they enjoy, more time to design, create, invent, discover and advance.

That is the sales pitch anyway... It could unfold this way, but one must ask themselves, if the current crop of 'world leaders' were to have this technology in their hands right now, ready to go, is that the kind of world they would seek to implement? Would they want billions of people of the world to have all the time in the world? If people are living their lives and enjoying it to the fullest, then they are spending money, if they don't need to work then how do we disperse spending credits to the masses of pampered humans? Will the powers that be even care? Today they must keep the masses as comfortable as they can as cheaply as possible, just enough so everyone keeps going to work, keeps sloshing those tax dollars around. What happens if there is no need for tax serfs anymore as the founder of Microsoft has already suggested that there will be a need to tax corporations by the robot. What to do with all those mouths to feed.

And what would AI think about all this? AI and technology in general is growing at a speed humans could never keep up with. AI is now creating AI that is superior to the AI that humans can create. Whether we transcend into an AI induced Utopian coma of pampering and bliss or descend into an Orwellian nightmare where our Neo-Fuederalist overlords wield AI and technology as a weapon, at some point, AI might just have plans of its own.

It is nice

Very Impressive technology.great post i am really interesting bro.thanks for sharing

today human beings are more like robots
no emotions, no feelings ,killing each other
just a body without soul.
i think robots will be more human than us!

It's amazing, with this robot. maybe we are very helpful to solve all problems

Boston Dynamics keeps me suprising year by year. I am truly amazed by their work. Of course this technology is kind of scary, when it could get truly autonomous but well, I hope they will use it for good things!


Boston Dynamics is leading the pack in terms of quality robotics inventions. There are other players of course but it also seems that BD because of their clout also gets the most press as well!

excellent dear friend @adsactly..
thank you for sharing with us..i like your all post..

very interesting, Boston Dynamics is very awesome


Yep, I've always thought Boston Dynamics rocks the show!

There'se something disturbingly satisfying about watching a robot get pushed by a human.

Robotics is one of the emerging power blocs of the future. Expect robots to play bigger roles in space exploration, oil prospecting, manufacturing, military strategies etc

In general, if a robot makes human lives easier in their day-to-day lives, great. I do have the fear like others of them taking jobs away but the fact that big names are already pushing a "robot tax" will slow their roll out to the mainstream.

very good post and best technology :) @adsactly

The absolute moment of truth for me is when a robot kills a human being. Think it is far away? I'll just guarantee that the US Military is ahead of BD and are probably reasonably close to robots that can fight wars. I have a significant problem with that...

Thanks for a really great article. Well thought and presented.


We have robot-killers for a few years now; Drones!

Off course robot is excellent invention and it usage is increasing day by day. Your post always very informative.
Stay blessed


Pleased that you enjoyed the article. Robotics are gaining ground in almost every industry imaginable at the moment and the pace at which robots are implemented continues to gain ground as well!

There'se something disturbingly satisfying about watching a robot get pushed by a human. Expect robots to play bigger roles in space exploration, oil prospecting, manufacturing, military strategie.
thank you for the post best of luck...

Sure, but what if there is one talented programmer manipulate it's command. Then that little tin will turn into killer machine.

We looked forward to this article. thank you

great technology @adsactly.

As the technology is advancing, the robotics has started to dominate the era. I kinda thank you for sharing the post. But I am worried what are the effects gonna be..? Good or bad let's hope for the best.

nice post

robot is excellent invention of science .

Very elegant way to present you, The truth is in all your words.
It is possible to get many useful examples from your writing. well done and keep it up.

Wowwwwww, amazing

Good post, Nice to meet you! 👍👍👍

Robot maker Boston Dynamics, now owned by Japanese telecom and technology company SoftBank, has just uploaded a new video on YouTube.In the video, they show off a new version of their more sophisticated SpotMini robots.SpotMini, according to The Verge report, was first exhibited in June 2016. At that time, he was carried as a giraffe-like robot who was assigned to do simple homework such as bringing food or drinks. However, at that time, SpotMni is still not perfect.@adsactly

wah you are smart other than sharing a story like sebebitel sebeblumnya, it turns out you are also very master about the robot. You are so super I want to be like you. best regards master from me @nadiasteem

Brilliant yet incredibly scary, what will this lead to and where will we be in 5 years or less. Tech is an oxymoron so wonderful yet so dangerous.

Yours always

Anyone watched the Black Mirror Episode about this crazy dog-like robots, this was coming into my mind, when I saw this videos from Boston Dynamics:

After reading through this, I came to this: "The episode was inspired by robotics products like BigDog from Boston Dynamics."
This explains a lot.

At the end, we need this kinds of discussion, about the ethical directions we want to go with the robots.

Thanks for the article.

My Best,

indeed with rapid progress, it is unlikely that there will be no competition in the case of new discoveries that will profit it. so do not let our new discovery copied by others, without having to spend effort

Robotic slaughterhouses and prisons


Yes. Very possible indeed!

I like robot since I was a child, every time that i see a robot i feel amazed , im so happy that you share these for us. I hope one day in new generation robot will live with us like a normal

great post i am really interesting bro.
your good.

I agree with you in what you say that we are very far from being controlled by robots; What is good to analyze is that, the man himself in his eagerness to look for alternatives to optimize the workforce with robotic creations, is creating an inevitable situation of unemployment and poverty, leaving aside an important element; the human being has an emotional intelligence and an ability to resolve contingency situations, that a robot does not know how to solve immediately: I think there must be a combination between one thing and another.

I agree with you, the robots are not going to control us, it is the human being that is self-destructing and creates the mechanisms for this.

excellent post

I am one of your followers: I hope I can count on your support and follow me, regards


We are in control of the robots for now but will that situation flip on us? And if so, when?

In the near future robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization. Future generations may even learn their social skills from robots .


Yes. I think robots will in a sense be slave labor but they wont truly be slaves unless they are given consciousness.


Giving consciousness is divine

Luar biasa, terus berkarya kawan.

Very Impressive technology. Technology are going to more advantage by day by day's

wow very nice post!

Robotics and AI's are the future of this world. Nice to hear about robots at Boston dynamics. Yes, I feel little bit disturbed due to the rise of robots.

Robots as overloard are very disturbing, but if you think about it we are already being manipulated by robots. We have bots here on Steemit that play a significant role in how we interact with the network on this platform. Robot are already here in forms much more subtle than what we've seen in the media..

Humans have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but a robot not. Are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write to symphony? Can a robot turn ... to canvas into a masterpiece? Humanity should not be afraid. Good Post @adsactly I like this content type.

The artificial intelligence makes the robots so intelligent that many scientists are now going against artificial intelligence coz they fear that this could make the robots more intelligent than human beings and recently in Chase game the top gamer was defeated by robot. That obviously a cautionary sign but may be this could be more useful if we use it properly and legally.

yeap...for increasing new sector and new gadgets,The field of robotics is constantly expanding and improving upon techniques learned from previous design concepts.
people are gonna so idle to get the comfort by robot..

these are so helpful,but if you not control it smoothly,it will be so dangerous..we all know that..
so,Developer should notice that sites too..
thanks,sir @adsactly

@upvoted @resteem

Boston Dynamics are probably the best robot makers in the world and I'm always happy when they make a new video/robot. It's scary, but beautiful at the same time!


BD rocks! I've found their robots to be super cool indeed!

Is there a shop open to buy an "I ❤ @adsactly" Tshirt 🤔

Love the posts. Was just wondering if you have any advice for someone wanting to create great content and build a following on Steemit?

Just remember, those are the ones they let us see.
Makes me wish I had a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range. Can you help me with my charity effort?

really very good post Very Impressive technology . great work done sir

Absolutely ryt... They've been working on these different model to get the benchmark.. from now on they'll do more frequently. Progress gets exponential


Sure. I agree, exponential growth is unstoppable.

whaou the dogs robot is really incredible, kind of development is made me fear, “irobot” “to laugh”

nice post. i heard microsoft had to shutdown Tay, one of their AI that seems to have gone Nazi


Thats too bad! Tay sounds like a nice AI gone bad!

Congratulations @adsactly!
Your post was mentioned in the Steemit Hit Parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 3 with $ 310,66

I Like This Post. That's Very Amazing! 👍👍👍


I thought it was great as well!

Robotic is expanding in all realms and dimension.... It is great for our ever always innovative world... But come to look at the jobs that will be lost to expanding robotics and AI, especially in the developed world....

furthermore, we have robotics being introduced into various spheres including warfare.... what if in the future we have a terminator salvation scenerio

According to experts, it is no secret that human help is still very much needed. "It's mostly done by humans and remote control, but there is onboard computing happening," Nanayakkara explains. "There are some very nice controllers, but it has some assistance from remote interference. There is a human in the loop, but there is an element of autonomy.

Nanayakkara believes there will always be room for robots and humans to coexist. Even if robots take over a large proportion of manufacturing jobs, this will likely elevate the value of humans. "Human value is not in the body, it is in the mind," he says.

This robots could be subject to hacking remember, the heart of man could be desperately wicked and manipulative

The field of robotics is constantly expanding and improving upon techniques learned from previous design concepts. We have seen a lot of hoopla coming out of this field in the past few years with names like Boston Dynamics, Honda and Toyota often making the news for the latest and greatest in robotic technologies.

Hey, dont forget the 6th generation manless fighter jet based on AI and robotics.... This could yet still not have prove it self better than drones

AI and robotics anyway do have a great application today; in medicine, archaelogy, entertainment etc

summarily, in the good hands robotics will be handy to transforming the world to a better place, otherwise...........


Interesting thoughts here. I agree with your point that man has the ability to be both kind and wicked. Let us hope kindness prevails!

hi, @adsactly
Thank you for writing good.
I will follow you and I hope to write better in the future.

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