The Next Generation of Robots

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Robots have always fascinated us; no matter if it’s a simple Roomba vacuum, a more sophisticated toy, or a science fiction future. But the ultimate in robotic technology today undoubtedly comes from Boston Robotics, a subsidiary of Google. The company has a variety of robots with two legs, four legs, and wheels. They can run, leap, fly, walk, and climb buildings.

The newest robot is a version of Atlas, designed to operate both outdoors as well as inside of buildings. It is an electric-powered, hydraulically-actuated robot capable of mobile manipulation of objects. Atlas has advanced sensors in its body and legs for balance, and stereo sensors in its head that enable it to avoid obstacles, assess terrain, help with navigation, and manipulate objects. It stands just under six-feet high and weighs 180 pounds. Knock it over, it gets right back up.

And, did we mention that video clips of Atlas have also been seen on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon? Robots are getting more humanoid-appearing with each version.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the latest video of Atlas: https://youtu.be/rVlhMGQgDkY
  2. Also show the clip of Jimmy Fallon discussing Atlas on The Tonight Show: https://youtu.be/AfxCjNK6LhQ
  3. Show Boston Dynamics Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team come up with three applications for using Atlas in a business.
  5. What companies might buy robots?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a business-to-business marketing campaign for robots.

Source: Manufacturing Business Technology, Boston Dynamics

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