New Atlas Robot
FYI, 'next generation' Atlas is the one on the leftBoston Dynamics/YouTube

When it's not helping us find movie torrents or implausible weight-loss tips, Google, or more specifically, parent company Alphabet Inc, is hard at work creating the robots that will eventually replace humans as the world's primary workforce.

Alphabet-owned Boston Dynamics has just released a video showing off its new and improved Atlas robot, a bipedal humanoid machine that the military backed robotics company eventually intends to put to use in search and rescue missions.

The "next-generation" model of the robot is untethered, meaning it's free to roam about by itself and can quite confidently traverse tough terrain, open doors and squat down to pick up objects. Atlas achieves these impressive feats thanks to an array of sensors inside its limbs that allow it to maintain balance, while a Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) system in the robot's "head" help it analyse and manipulate objects and navigate terrain without bumping into things.

Atlas isn't the only project out of Boston Dynamics: the company is working on a range of robots invariably aimed at helping humans out of sticky situations. One of the more disturbing is BigDog, a lurching, 240lbs (108kg) machine essentially designed to be a robotic pack mule. While it was initially intended to carry equipment for US troops, the idea was scrapped last year over fears that the noise BigDog made could give away soldiers' positions to enemies.

Just to test whether its latest robot can put up with the stresses of everyday life, Atlas's creators subject the machine to a light trolling in the video, knocking boxes out of its hands and shoving it over with a hockey stick. It's a good thing robots don't have the capacity for revenge...yet.