It can run, squat, go up steps and do push-ups, but it isn’t human — it’s PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot developed by Boston Dynamics to test military gear.
And its life-like abilities are putting the future of robotics on the map.
“We have an extensive team of robotics rock stars here,” said Marc Raibert, president of the company.
Made up of mechanical and electronics engineers as well as programmers and robot behavior specialists, Boston Dynamic is a spin-off from MIT where the company founders first developed robots that maneuvered like animals.
Raibert said it took the team two years to complete PETMAN, commissioned for the Department of Defense to test special clothing used by military personnel.
“Beyond that, there are all sorts of chores a robot like PETMAN can do,” said Dr. Robert Playter, VP of Engineering. “[From] repairing the damaged Fukashima reactors, or going anywhere that was designed for human access but is too dangerous for people to safely work.”
On Oct. 30, the company released a video of the lifelike robot, showing it doing various exercises.
In days, it went viral.
But this is just the beginning for the company’s 60-person robotics team.
In February, they received funding for an accelerated version of the PETMAN model.
The team of engineers is putting all the parts together to build ATLAS, a “humanoid with two arms and two legs that will climb and maneuver in rough terrain to achieve human-like agility.”
Some of the ATLAS model’s key features will be its use of speed and mobility, using momentum to overcome obstacles.
Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.