Building the Bridge: From the Iron Man to Atlas

Science fiction is definitely the forerunner of technology. Even before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon or the Wright brothers decided to fly, writers talked about flying cars and colonies on other planets. And in the previous decade, they decided to talk about machines helping mankind and sometimes even overthrowing them.They have seen everything from the crime fighting Robocop to the light hearted cleaning robot WALL-E.

But ever since Marvel Studios came out with the first Iron Man movie, Robotics-Enthusiasts all over the world have kept a close watch on this genre of movies. This movie series has striked numerous discussions among the younger viewers and has also inspired them to follow the latest trends in Robotics. Let us see what is fiction and what is real in the field of robotics.

The preliminary topic of discussion on robotics would be its maneuverability. Can robots move as efficiently as humans do? A keen robot enthusiast would probably laugh at my question, because this was the hot topic debated around the world almost a year back until Boston Dynamics introduced Atlas, the 6 feet 2, battery powered bot. In the youtube video: published by its creators, Atlas is seen to jump over blocks, that are almost 3 feet tall, doing back flips and turning 180 degrees while jumping. One small backflip for a robot is one giant leap forward for technology.

Crazy right? But not crazy enough, because this was 1 year ago! In more recent developments, the creators decided to take Atlas for a jog through the woods, traversing uneven terrains and jumping over woods! Hard to believe ? Check out this video and see for yourselves. 
I was browsing through the comment section and this crazy comment caught my eye. It said “Imagine walking through the woods and seeing this thing come right at you”. If you think about it, this is the near future. The sequence from The Terminator where the Robot walks into a bar will soon be a reality. Billions of dollars and years of research has perfected the motion of robots, be it biped, quadruped or even wheeled robots. Combine it with an Artificially Intelligent motion planning system and let the magic happen.