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Meet Atlas: The Pentagon's 'Freakily Lifelike' Robot

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Defense Department has long teamed up with technology firms to create weapons and vehicles like fighter jets. One of its latest projects is a collaboration with robotics firm Boston Dynamics to build Atlas, a bipedal robot that can walk, jump and climb and could be the future of disaster response on and off the battlefield. 

New Tech City host Manoush Zomorodi was kind of freaked out when the DOD unveiled Atlas last week: "It did look like the Terminator had finally arrived for real."

She sat down with tech and security journalist Noah Shachtman, who explained why the Pentagon's R&D wing DARPA is pouring money into humanoid robots. 

"It thinks that there are all kinds of places — muddy valleys, tree-lined forest paths, deep deserts — that things with wheels cannot go," Shachtman said. 

Listen to their conversation to find out if Shachtman allayed Manoush's fear that the military is building a cyborg race to rival humanity. 

The internet and GPS started as Pentagon projects, but as Shachtman explained, the Pentagon has recently been taking its cues from tech companies in the private sector instead of vice versa. 

"You see a lot of programs now which are just ways for the Defense Department to catch up with Google," Shachtman said. "This walking humanoid robot is probably an exception."

What do you think of Atlas? Let us know in the comments section. 

Guests:

Noah Shachtman

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

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