The Cool, Yet Creepy, Robots of Boston Dynamics

With the strides science has made in recent years, it’s no surprise that robots are one of the most interesting advances to observe. We’ve developed them to do tons of awesome things, such as genetic engineering and even herding sheep or cattle. In fact, it seems there’s always some type of robot in the news doing something neat. When you actually search these things out, the things scientists and engineers are doing blow your mind.

Of course, most people probably don’t so much think about these practical robots in a lab or those on the factory floor. More likely, their eye is caught by those that perform more interesting things, especially more human-like things, such as those hair-raising sorta-artificial-intelligence creepers with a human face (and sometimes body!). You know them. Those freaky, talking Japanese robots. The ones that look a little too much like the baddies you’ve seen in film or on television.

It’s okay to admit it; they’re a bit unnerving.  But are they the only creepy robots out there?

Not in my book.

When I want to get the heebie-jeebies from some human-created, intelligent hunk of wires and metal, I usually turn to Boston Dynamics, for the following five reasons:

1. The SpotMini makes me think of some kind of alien dog. Should I pet it? Is it spying on me? Is it luring me in to some trap because it knows I have a soft spot for dogs?

2. Atlas can jump. And do flips. What else is it learning to do so it can chase and kill me?

3. Please don’t give WildCat jaws; it could chase us down and eat us.

4. Petman is for ‘testing clothing for hazardous environments.’ M’kay. Sure, I believe you. You’ll never program it for anything else. *wink*

5. Could you image an army of artificially intelligent Handle robots roaming loose? Give it a weapon, and it’s terminator time.

Look, I’m not saying human use of artificial intelligence in robots is a precursor for their taking over the world. Not really. However, sometimes these things, although technologically cool, just give me the creeps, for a few reasons:

  • Robots such as Handle and Atlas can move just as good or better than humans. That’s just odd to watch, particularly with the ones that are fast.
  • Robots can also seem alien when you don’t see their likeness every day. The closest I’ve been to such a thing is my sister’s robot dog, and that was years ago, when it could barely shuffle across the carpet.
  • Then there’s the possibilities for their use. In the wrong hands, some of these guys might be a little scary or dangerous. I’m not implying that the creators have bad intentions, but we know humans will be humans. Not all of us are sugar and spice and everything nice.

Still, despite my imagination’s creative reservations, robots like those above are pretty neat. It’s probably just something odd in me that finds them bizarre.

I only wish I could say the same for androids like Erica.

Everything’s creepy about that.



Krista's a freelance proofreader and writer who spends most days eyeballing medical texts, others crafting stories for teen games. Sometimes she even makes a few bucks with photography. One thing's always true--she's got a hot geek streak for historical and scientific discovery.

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