Google's 'Karate Kid' Robot Shows That, When The Machines Do Rise, They'll Definitely Sweep The Leg

Kevin Bostic

Let's just get a few things out of the way to start. Yes: Google bought a robot-making defense contractor and is now making robots that will inevitably rise up against us. No: there's nothing you can do about that. But Google's new Karate Kid robot will at least ensure that the robot uprising is packed with entertaining pop culture references.

Google-owned robotics lab Boston Dynamics recently showed off video of its 6-foot-2-inch Atlas robot, which they've nicknamed "Ian," presumably to keep people from thinking, "Google is building a race of robot titans." "Ian" weighs in at 330 lbs and the robotics company says that he's part of a project aimed at replacing humans in firefighting and other hazardous tasks. (h/t: 9to5Google)

The T-800 Ian is already able to carry firehoses, get into cars, and drive them. Ian is also able to climb over obstacles using both its hands and feet.

Inside its massive head-like structure, Ian has two cameras and a laser rangefinder, allowing it to get a good view of the humans running away from it its surroundings.

The (literal) kicker comes in its balance and flexibility. Boston Dynamics showed off the robot recreating one of the iconic poses from The Karate Kid.

Fortunately Currently, Ian isn't terribly mobile, even if he is dextrous. The robot requires a constant connection to an electric generator in order to power its 28 movable joints. Boston Dynamics promises, though, that its robot will eventually be able to get around on its own without being tethered to a power source.

Lest you think Atlas/Ian comes in peace, remember that Boston Dynamics is the same group that built the horrifying impressive Cheetah robot for DARPA. That robot was capable of running at 18 miles per hour, and an on-board power supply means that it wouldn't get tired -- like you will.

The only thing holding Atlas and the Cheetah back is Google's motto: "Don't be evil." Remember, though, that the robots have no notions of simple human concepts like "good," "evil," and "mercy." It's like Professor Frink said.

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