We, as a culture, can’t seem to decide whether we love or hate robots.
On the one hand, they can be cute and friendly (The Iron Giant, Wall-E, Baymax from Big Hero 6) but on the other, they’re depicted as completely terrifying and powerful and out to end the humans (The Terminator, the Decepticons from Transformers, Ultron from The Avengers).
But the good news for anybody terrified of the robots we see in pop culture is that all of the robots in those movies are works of fiction. We’re a long way off those mechanical beings become a reality.
Enter robotics lab Boston Dynamics.
Last week, the company released a video showing its Atlas robot going out for a jog. And it was low-key terrifying.
Why is the robot running? What did it do? Where is it fleeing from? There are so many unanswered questions.
Boston Dynamics then followed it up with a new video showing its robot dog using autonomous navigation to traverse through a space, suggesting that the robots don’t even need humans anymore to get around.
And on top of that, Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert said on Friday that SpotMini would be available for consumer purchase in 2019.
But the running Atlas and the autonomously navigating SpotMini aren’t the only times the company has unsettled us with its robot demonstrations.
Here are 5 more times Boston Dynamics robots scared the shit out of us.
In November 2017, Boston Dynamics debuted its new robot dog SpotMini, the smaller, more nimble, updated version of the company’s previous canine robot Spot. And the new miniature version looked, dare we say it, kinda cute.
That is until we saw it in action. In the SpotMini’s debut video, the robot dog trots along … before it suddenly stops and gazes into the camera. And lemme tell you: Y’all, IT WAS CREEPY AS HELL.
The robots are going to be creepy AND rude.
The creep factor is due to several reasons. First, in most of the videos that we’ve seen of Boston Dynamics robots, the robot never acknowledges the viewer. We are watching the robot perform basic feats like walking, but there’s always been a comforting distance between ourselves and the robot as the performer. But all of a sudden, with the SpotMini, Boston Dynamics signaled to us that that robots are watching us back.
Who wants that? I’ll tell you. Nobody. Nobody wants that.
Then, after gazing into our souls, the SpotMini turns and trots away as if to say “nope, not worth my time.” Great, so the robots are going to be creepy AND rude. Ugh.
The good news about the impending robot apocalypse is that it has always been relatively easy to keep robots contained. Put a simple obstacle in the way (like the time we watched Boston Dynamics’ first robot dog Spot slip on a banana peel) and THE HUMANS WIN!
Or at least that used to be the case until February 2018, when Boston Dynamics released a video of a robot opening a door.
In the video, our friend the SpotMini tries get out of a lab but can’t because, ha dumb robot doesn’t have hands. But then SpotMini gets the last laugh as he calls over his friend, another SpotMini and ~plot twist~ THIS ONE HAS AN ARM ON ITS BACK.
The new SpotMini walks over, extends its creepy 5th robot arm which is mounted on its back, pulls the door handle, pries open the door, and holds it open for its robot friend to walk through, and then walks through the door itself.
It was proof that THE ROBOTS CANNOT BE CONTAINED!
Okay, so we know that the SpotMini can open doors. But humans and robots should work together. If a human tries to stop the robot from leaving, the SpotMini will listen, right?
Shortly after the video of SpotMini opening the door debuted, Boston Dynamics uploaded a new video, this time showing what would happen if a human tried to stop the robot. And let’s just say it doesn’t go well.
To be fair, the guy didn’t seem like he was putting up THAT much resistance against SpotMini. After all, he probably doesn’t want to damage the robot. But still, what we do see is that once the SpotMini has its mind set on something, it will continue at all costs to continue its mission.
And that level of determination in a robot is NOT a good sign for humanity’s continued existence on Earth.
Fast robots. That all you need to know. Now the robots are fast.
Let me spell that out another way: W-e A-r-e D-o-o-m-e-d.
Okay, so we know that the robots are fast. They are determined. And they can work together.
But the apocalypse is complicated. Not to be paranoid, but if we were to have a human / robots Hunger Games, the humans would win because of our sheer mobility, right…
Well, in November 2017, Boston Dynamics released a video of its robot Atlas completing a mini obstacle course. The bot stands on the floor and must get from one end of the room to the other by jumping on or over blocks that stand in its way. And it passes the test with flying colors.
First it jumps up from the floor to one block, then it jumps from that block to another one, jumps down, completes a bigger jump to reach a taller block, and then, as if to say “that was so easy,” MUFUGGIN ROBOT DOES A BACKFLIP FROM THE TALL BLOCK.
10 outta 10 in my book.
And, yeah, those robots are for sure winning the robot / human Hunger Games.
Thanks, Boston Dynamics. Thanks.