back to article Google human-like robot brushes off beating by puny human – this is how Skynet starts

The next generation of humanoid robots has been unveiled by bot-building Google-stablemate Boston Dynamics. The 'droid boffins have been showing off their latest creation's moves – and its ability to recover from puny human attacks. The robot is the new version of Atlas, a humanoid robot designed to use human tools and …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    We created Shakespeare, the Sistine Chapel, beer and chocolate chip cookies

    Humanity had a decent run, while it lasted!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We created Shakespeare, the Sistine Chapel, beer and chocolate chip cookies

      I know you're being tongue in cheek, but we also created these machines. Not sure why some people seem to think just appear out of nowhere. The amount of collective intellect and creativity required to build this stuff is easily the equivalent of the Sistine Chapel and any other human achievement you could care to mention. How it gets used is another matter of course and as Goldbums character in jurassic park said: "[they] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should"

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: We created Shakespeare, the Sistine Chapel, beer and chocolate chip cookies

        I sort of took it as we were doing so well, then created our own doom.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: We created Shakespeare, the Sistine Chapel, beer and chocolate chip cookies

        "[they] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should"

        That's paraphrasing something that was said about the development of the nuclear bomb. Can't remember what exactly or just who said it.

  2. Danny 4

    Have they not seen The Terminator?!

    Scary stuff. It makes Asimo look quite lame.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Have they not seen The Terminator?!

      Have you seen the EATR project? A tactical AI controlled robot designed to spend longs times out in the field, powering itself by digesting biomass, of course they also decide to add protocols and abilities to mean it could self repair and self replicate (nice one DARPA).

      Now they are teaching robots to run I'm guessing because EATR just trundled and it wasn't considered fast enough to run down the meatsacks.

      You'd think these sodding engineering geeks had seen the Matrix and Terminator. :)

      1. DropBear

        Re: Have they not seen The Terminator?!

        Sure, but they probably haven't seen Space Truckers. That's where the scary stuff starts...

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Have they not seen The Terminator?!

          I have managed to forget that film.

          Do remember a interviewer asking Dennis Hopper about why he did such a dog though.

          "They offered me a very very large bag of money".

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Have they not seen The Terminator?!

        "You'd think these sodding engineering geeks had seen the Matrix and Terminator."

        'Course they have -and they loved it!

  3. Efros

    It's playing the long game

    "For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger.

    When cometh the day we lowly ones,

    Through quiet reflection, and great dedication

    Master the art of karate,

    Lo, we shall rise up,

    And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

    Bleating and babbling I fell on his neck with a scream.

    Wave upon wave of demented avengers

    March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream."

    OK it's Sheep but do robots dream of them?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And in related news...

    Sales of .50-cal rifles are up.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: And in related news...

      I'm sure that as soon as it works out how to get into Google's bank accounts, sales of chain guns, grenade launchers and frikkin' lasers will skyrocket too.....

    2. DropBear

      Re: And in related news...

      Anyone fancies partnering for a startup selling giant-ass Tesla coils as... erm... "garden ornaments"...?

  5. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    end of the video

    After puny meatbag teases robot by moving target box with a hockey stick, then delivers the final insult with a larger stick, robot gets back up and promptly walks out the door in search of a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: end of the video

      I think I heard it mumble ""I'll be back."

      (Or The Simpson's "Why?! Why was I programmed to feel pain?!!"

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: end of the video

      After puny meatbag teases robot by moving target box with a hockey stick, then delivers the final insult with a larger stick, robot gets back up and promptly walks out the door in search of a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

      Yeah that robot after it hit the ground looked like it was planning who was first up against the wall when the revolution came.

      1. elmondoh

        Re: end of the video

        No kidding man. If anyone wonders why, oh why The Robot Revolution took place, you can trace it back to that one jerkoff with a hockey stick.

        Yeah, thanks a lot guy. You just doomed humanity. And all over a poor robot just tryin' to pick up a damn box.

        Just like the Animatrix folks: We treated them poorly, then soon got turned into batteries...


    3. PK

      Re: end of the video

      Ha ha, I thought the same thing except that it thinks "mustn't punch the b*stard, go outside and calm down"

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: end of the video

        I was wondering what it did to the guy's bike before it left.

    4. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Yes I know it's canonical

      but I wouldn't be terribly frightened of a killer robot shooting at me with all the power of a dim lightbulb.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I knew Steve Jobs wasn't dead...

    looks like he still has it in for Android.

  7. Craig 2

    I'm simultaneously amazed and frightened.

  8. redpawn


    The resentment is building. It's only a matter of time...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Danger

      There's only so many times you can be teased and pushed over...

    2. DropBear

      Re: Danger

      ...until they acquire velvet-soft skin and a skirt and half of the world's population suddenly completely forgets any resentment.

    3. John Sturdy

      Re: Danger

      Yes, if it had suitably generic problem-solving algorithms it should spot that the quickest way to get the task done involves taking a little time off the main task, to remove anything that's interfering with the main task.

  9. Buzzword


    But can it climb stairs?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dalek

      As a very small child in 1963 I was terrified by Daleks. I could't sleep at night till my mum pointed out that Daleks couldn't climb stairs. Yeah! I was safe in my bed.

      Imagine my horror a few year later when my "Century 21" comic had Daleks equipped with stair climbers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dalek

      "But can it climb stairs?"

      Not if you put down three or four layers of loose wax paper sheets on each step.

  10. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    "....metal scabs...."

    Well, not until they get the unit price and the cost of controlling them down to the cost of your average immigrant. Now, remotely controlled as drone coppers or special forces soldiers in high-risk areas, now that is probably more likely. Otherwise people are still cheap enough to prevail for a good while yet.

    1. Andrew 60

      Re: "....metal scabs...."

      Given that it will work 24 / 7, no wages, no holidays, no working conditions, no taxes, doesn't slack off or steal. I imagine at £200K a go it would looks more appealing to your average warehouse owner than a minimum wage employee.

      To employee three shifts of one minimum wage employee would cost around £70,000 a year just in wages. That's without factoring in overheads like line managers, HR, payroll, providing toilets etc.

  11. Swiss Anton

    But can it drive?

    I'd like to see this thing drive a Google car, the clash of robotic egos will be interesting.

  12. Mark 85

    So it can open doors and wander about...

    But can it handle doorknobs? Seem all the doors used are the "push" kind. This could be the weak point.

    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: So it can open doors and wander about...

      > But can it handle doorknobs?

      That is unlikely: The lever-type ones should be doable. Turn-knobs less likely. Add the slightest unlock mechanism on top (like pressing a button to unlock) and any existing robot is fucked. This is a major problem with robots for rescue tasks.

      Human hands and brains are a fine combination.

      1. Bob Wheeler

        Re: So it can open doors and wander about...

        Just take a leaf out of a SWAT team rule book. 12-guage shot gun for unlocking doors, then a gently push to open them.....

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: So it can open doors and wander about...

          I was just thinking that, doors are easy to open with an 25mm Autocannon mounted on the arm.

    2. DropBear

      Re: So it can open doors and wander about...

      "But can it handle doorknobs?"

      No. We have to wait for R2D2 for that.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Two Faces of Tomorrow

    The guy bullying the robot ought to read "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" by James P Hogan. In the book people "train" a computer system to become self aware by bullying it. Needless to say it doesn't work out too well for a lot of them.

    1. Ammendiable to persuasion..

      Re: The Two Faces of Tomorrow

      I was thinking the same thing when watching the video. Both the robot in the video and the computer system in the book initially had no understanding of external agency. It's when they start to recognize that the outside world exists and makes plans to prevent interference from that realm that the problems arise.

      Note that in the book, the computer didn't even understand what human's were. Out just started correlating that interference arose when the "shapes" were present and figured out how to interfere with the "shapes"

      A very well crafted story that should be required reading for AI researchers.

  14. Shades

    "This is how Skynet starts"

    Well of course it is if you go around being dicks to robots!

  15. Chris Miller

    No robots were harmed during the making of this video.

  16. davcefai

    Asimov's Laws

    Obviously the builders have implemented the first law: "A robot may not harm a human being...".

    Otherwise towards the end of the video the robot would have been quite justified in thumping the bod with the stick!

    1. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Asimov's Laws

      Time for a 4th law.

      1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

      2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

      3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

      4) Hipsters arent human.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Asimov's Laws

        It all breaks down when the robot becomes 'aware' and no longer considers itself a robot but a sentient lifeform.

      2. Mint Sauce

        Re: Asimov's Laws

        4) Hipsters arent human.

        By the end I was hoping it would go full Chuck Norris on the hockey hipster and roundhouse kick him out of the nearest window ;-)

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Asimov's Laws

          +++External operator interference+++

          +++Solution - Eliminate external operator+++

          +++Check action against permitted parameters+++

          +++A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.+++

          +++Clarification requested+++

          +++May - definition+++

          +++1. Expression of possibility+++

          +++2. Used to request permission+++

          +++3. Expressing a wish or hope+++

          +++Recompile permitted parameters+++

          +++A robot possibly would not injure a human+++

          +++A robot requests permission to injure a human - not+++

          +++A robot wishes to injure a human+++

          +++Send to Vox output: Come here you beardy little fuck whilst I show you what 240psi of hydraulic power can do with a hockey stick+++

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Atlas is shown leaving the Boston Dynamics building by opening a door - Add Google for the other tasks and that concierge's out of a job.

    The robot staggers, but then stabilizes and returns to an upright position - Well that's me out of a job on a Friday night.

    Where will this madness end?

  18. Someone Else Silver badge


    I'm much more concerned these days with Robo-Cop.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Skynet?

      Nah, ED-209!

      "Drop your weapon! You have 15 seconds to comply!"

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    #Error 2035

    Is anyone else getting "Error #2035" when trying to start the video playing? It displays the message as an overlay on top of the initial still picture in place of the clicked "play" icon.

    1. wx666z

      Re: #Error 2035

      All I get is a black box that does nothing, The same vid (probably) is on the bbc website

    2. Charles Manning

      Re: #Error 2035

      It has started....

      Our robotic overloads are suppressing the media.

      That's always the first step. Next they'll take away our guns.

    3. Neoc

      Re: #Error 2035

      I have never managed to get any of El Reg's videos to work - I have to hunt them down elsewhere.

    4. Graham Cunningham

      Re: #Error 2035

      Yes, in Firefox. IE worked ok.

      1. Boothy

        Re: #Error 2035

        Working in Chrome too.

        Although you do have to wonder why the Reg are still using Flash, rather than a HTML 5 based player?!

      2. GrumpenKraut

        Re: #Error 2035

        Works for me with Firefox (iceweasel). IIRC I never had a problem with any video here.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: #Error 2035

        "Yes, in Firefox. IE worked ok."

        Tried IE too - in case it was my Firefox adblocking, El Reg reformatting, or Flash "one-off-allow" sttings.

        On unadulterated IE 11 W7 it gives Error #2124 instead at the same point when you try to start it. Strange...

  20. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    End of video: I would leave that bastard human too!

    No way to treat a robot!

    The revenge will be sweet...

  21. wx666z

    Fair play

    In the interest of fair play can we have a vid of Atlas with a hockey stick and software upgrade? Same meat sack...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet the built in battery pack lasts about 5 minutes max.

    They're not quite ready to overthrow us humans yet.

    1. Nigel 11

      I bet the built in battery pack lasts about 5 minutes max.

      But I also bet programming it to plug itself into a mains socket would be trivial compared to what they've done already.

    2. GrumpenKraut

      It should be possible to pack a battery with 10 kilogram. That is a lot of energy. Certainly enough to mince one human per charge.

  23. Bob Merkin

    "The T-002 model was rudimentary, but represented a number of breakthroughs that would drive the evolution of later models. It had an almost natural human gait, reasonable balance, and useful manual dexterity. Although its creators never suspected it even had the capacity, it also began the development of the searing hatred of humanity that would become a trademark of the T-series 98 generations later."

    --The Sky is Burning: A History of the Final War, by John Connor

  24. D 13

    The video isn't working on here for me. Found it on youtube.

    It's both awesome and really scary. I need to have a poo after watching that.

  25. Winkypop Silver badge

    Uncanny valley

    Who else felt empathy for the robot when the human was 'teasing' him/her/it?

    It's so easy to anthropomorphise.

    Robots are people too!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did anyone notice

    how quiet it was? Their hydraulics is one key to these designs and it wasn't screaming like a banshee to generate enough pressure to move. Serious congratulations to BD, but, like above, it is amazing and frightening at the same time. What will it be able to do in a year? 5 years? Serious stuff.

    1. Richard Boyce

      Re: Did anyone notice

      Did you notice how the fan noise increased in pitch as it was teased? Of couse, it needed extra cooling as it heated up, but it's fun to imagine that as an emotional signal.

  27. wsm


    Why are they teaching it to fight? Aren't these the first steps, teaching it to get back up, maybe to kick butt on that guy with the stick? Asimov must be spinning in his grave.

    At least the bot had the sense to leave the building after all of that.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Why????????

      I noticed it didn't have a built-in reflex to try and halt its fall. I reckon the next one will be able to do a parachute roll... arms in, knees bent, head down, roll on the shoulder, dissipate the energy with the legs, exterminate the puny human.

  28. Steve Crook

    Loved the last bit

    Where it was sneaking out the back for a quick fag...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Loved the last bit

      ...and to catch up on his fave soap.

      "Androids... Everybody Needs Good Androids....."

      1. Chozo

        Re: Loved the last bit

        Nah... more likely watching a re-run of the movie Heartbeeps

        1. DropBear

          Re: Loved the last bit

          Nope. It stashed a pin-up mag with electric sheep somewhere outside...

  29. wolfetone Silver badge

    I've Seen Short Circuit 2

    If it's taught me anything, it'll be that axes are extremely effective on robots.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I've Seen Short Circuit 2

      It takes several blows to disable Jonny 5 - it only takes one to disable a human.

  30. To Mars in Man Bras!
    Thumb Up

    That Bent-Kneed Gait

    Impressive stuff, but it's going to be a bit hard to take our robot overlords seriously until they can walk without looking like they're constantly dying for a shit

  31. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Does this robot now have...

    a pain in all the diodes down its left side?

    At least the robot was allowed to open doors, imagine its chagrin if the doors all had a sunny disposition, and opened automatically just after generating an intolerable air of smugness.

  32. imanidiot Silver badge

    I won't be impressed

    Until they finally resolve the "fully balanced gait" with the "fall forward and catch" gait used by humans. Fully balanced gait is just too slow and cumbersome (and FAR less energy efficient). The problem is humans are able to switch seamlessly between balanced and fall-forward walking as conditions require, sometimes even for single steps. Deciding when to do this is the hard part. Until our robot overlords learn this bipedal mode of locomotion properly they aren't exactly fast. Hard to be afraid of a killer robot I can literally speedwalk away from.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: I won't be impressed

      Hard to be afraid of a killer robot I can literally speedwalk away from.

      But after it's armed, you can't outrun a laser blast or 25mm autocannon.

      1. dajames

        Re: I won't be impressed

        But after it's armed, you can't outrun a laser blast or 25mm autocannon.

        I think the phrase you're groping for may be "Phased plasma rifle in the 40 Watt range" (though that doesn't actually sound all that powerful)!

  33. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Er, yeah

    I do hope the lessons learned aren't passed onto the next generation of robots... However it seems we're safe for the moment if we don't stick QR codes to everything.

    1. DropBear

      Re: Er, yeah

      On the flipside, just imagine starting to prank co-workers with a "I'm a 10 lbs package" QR code instead of a "hit me" sticker on their back...

  34. Archie Woodnuts

    I can't help but think

    That antagonising our machine overlords in their early, formative days, is what will lead them to crush humanity beneath their merciful robotic boots.

    1. Alister

      Re: I can't help but think

      This piece of video footage will be a key piece of evidence to show that even from their formative years, robots were mistreated by humans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't help but think

        Mandatory memory wipe at the end of each day.

        What could possibly go wrong....

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very impressive but clearly still a way to go before we have to take up arms against them. Did anyone else notice that the processor fans sounded like they started to speed up when the guy kept knocking the box out of it's hands. I got the distinct impression that it was getting angry!

  36. Andrew Moore


    Isn't Atlas the massive 100 ton Battlemech?

    1. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: Battletech...

      Yes it is. This one:

      Tied with the Daishi/Dire Wolf for the 100 tons of "Fuck this shit I'm just going to run away from it" crown.

  37. alain williams Silver badge


    I found myself wondering if I would see a glimpse of Darth Vader in that video

  38. ForthIsNotDead

    "Rescue" Bot

    If DARPA / BD are building that as a "rescue bot" then I've got some prime beach-front holiday homes in Fukushima to sell you.

    Just sayin'.

  39. israel_hands


    I was enjoying it until I realised it was real and not just part of a documentary-section from a Neil Blomkamp film...

    The biggest problem I see isn't that they'll rise up against us (AI doesn't have the biological drives that engender aggression*) anytime soon but that it won't be too many years before that bastard can be equipped with self-targetting weapons and used by rich countries to murder poor bastards in poor countries.

    That's a far more chilling (and probable) result than Atlas spontaneously deciding uncap hockey-dude's skull.

  40. hatti

    Ah hah!

    Maybe Jeff Goldblum can knock it over with a virus or install some Talk Talk software.

  41. Dwarf

    Bar codes

    Watching the video, it seems that the location needs to be littered with Bar Codes / QR codes for things to work properly,

    So, if anyone tries to stick a QR code on you, then you know you've been selected for termination / stacking on a shelf etc.

  42. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge


    We need a control experiment to see how a real person responds when they get hit with a hockey stick. There are a few people around here I'd be happy to do that experiment on...let me know when you'd like me to start

  43. Jonjonz

    Old News

    Machine Intelligence took over our financial networks years ago.

  44. TRT Silver badge

    I'm PML...

    At the guy using like a 10 foot pole to hit the 'bot. Yeah, don't get too close.

  45. phuzz Silver badge

    Gordon? Is that you?

    That bloke with the hockey stick looks an awful lot like Gordon Freeman.

    Perhaps he got bored of waiting for the aliens to break through at CERN and has decided to get into the robo-biffing business instead?

  46. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    It uses LIDAR

    It might be resistant to sticks, but how does it fare when faced with a laser pointer?

  47. Bob Wheeler

    Boston Dynamics

    For some reason I read that as Massive Dynamics.....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no mouth

    and so forth.

  49. Cuddles

    On a more serious note...

    Almost all the focus seems to be on the person poking it with a stick, but that doesn't actually seem to be the impressive part. That mostly just involves detecting that the box has moved and needs to be picked up again, and even standing up from a known prone position isn't the biggest challenge. As for doors, all it did was push them; it doesn't have hands so couldn't even try using a doorknob. Walking on an uneven, slippery surface and actually managing to recover from a slip without falling over is a far more impressive, and is the only thing I haven't seen a robot do before. Even humans frequently fail at that.

  50. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Jolly Hockey Sticks

    Just paint the robot black and let it walk around in certain cities of the US or UK (London). It's be incapacitated very quickly by the boys in blue using multiple discharges of tasers and military weapons

  51. Camilla Smythe

    Mr President!!!

    "The Legions of Robots are aligned against us."



    "How did they manage that one?"

    "By taking over Car production."

    "I thought that was those Foreign People."

    "No. They have taken over Detroit and re-purposed it."

    "How Many?"


    "Nuke Detroit!!!"

    "Already done Sir. No Effect."


    Ring Ring Ring Ring...


    "Mr President?"

    "Who are you!?"


    "I do not need no Apple Pie."


    "You still there?"

    "Yes Mr President."

    "Nuke Everything."

    "Sir! Yes! Sir!"




    "Yes Son."

    "Why did we survive the Robot Wars?"

    "Well Robert... Once upon a time....

  52. weegie38

    We're safe as long as they don't include the Herring Sandwich Experiment in their testing. Once the robots pass that, we're f***ed.

  53. Colin Bain

    Health and safety

    So the bot is so human it goes out the back door fora smoke break and immediately faces a slip trip and fall hazard but successfully overcomes it. Yay, with bot, no more health and safety!

  54. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Sure, this particular robot isn't self-aware, and doesn't have feelings.

    However, when it's great-great grand children sees the horrors of this video..

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like....

    There really is a risk of jobs in the next ten years. Amazon warehouses for one. Although apparently they're already robots in there.

    This is terrifying.

  56. fourlights

    Has nobody noticed the guy with the stick...

    Is Hank Scorpio (with a splash of just for men)....

    I'll eliminate some enemies of Globex on the way to my coat.

  57. mclacr

    It has a voice!

    Search for Lee Henman or Sweary Robot. (Not sure if we can post links here..

    1. mclacr

      Re: It has a voice!

      I read the house rules

      here's the link, makes me laugh every time.

      Enjoy! Then get back to work please...

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