ARE we looking at the genesis of Skynet?

That's the question some were asking when Boston Dynamics showcased the newest version of its Atlas robot to YouTube last week.

The machine's ability to mimic a human walk and balance is wowing the technology world, with the video showing the robot negotiating rough terrain in a snowy forest.

But there was a twinge of unease in the comments section, especially after the video showed a man pushing the robot over to demonstrate its balance recovery and ability to pick itself off the floor.

"This thing is giving me the creeps big time," Aaron Gundy wrote.

"Does anyone else feel bad for the robot when they knock it over?" asked D. Duncan.

This version of Atlas is designed to operate outdoors and inside buildings, is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated.

It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation and manipulate objects.

This version of Atlas is about 5' 9" tall (about a head shorter than the previous version, the DRC Atlas) and weighs almost 82kg.

Boston Dynamics is owned by Google Inc, and specialises in developing robots that run and manoeuvre like animals. 


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