Watch This New Robot Relax in the Creepiest Way Possible

The past decade has seen humanoid robot makers trying to make their creations more and more like humans. But here in 2024, we seem to be witnessing an odd shift in the dexterity of our bipedal robo-dreams. Put bluntly, robotics companies aren’t afraid of getting weird with the contortions of their latest offerings.

China-based Unitree Robotics released a new video on Monday, available on YouTube, showing off the new G1 which retails for $16,000. It’s just the latest demonstration of a robot maneuvering in entirely un-human ways to accomplish its goals, as you can see in the GIF above.

The video includes lots of odd movements, showing how the robot can get up off the ground or greet people by pulling a sort of Exorcist move with its torso, rotating 180 degrees. And it all looks strikingly similar to the new version of Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, which has a novel way of getting on its feet.

There’s also a demonstration of the Unitree robot getting kicked and pushed, presumably to show how well it can balance, even when it meets resistance. But we’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us uncomfortable. These are, after all, robots made to look like humans. And watching wanton cruelty, even against a machine that doesn’t have feelings, sets off something deep in our brain that says they shouldn’t be doing that.

Unitree Introducing | Unitree G1 Humanoid Agent | AI Avatar | Price from $16K

Again, these contortions all seem a bit new. A decade ago, Gizmodo attended the DARPA Robotics Challenge in Southern California, where teams largely competed by trying to make their robots as much like humans as possible. Companies like Boston Dynamics released new videos each year showing its robots walking, running, and then eventually doing backflips, all in the same way that talented humans might do it.

But we seem to be on the cusp of a new era when it comes to robotics. Most robot makers have achieved basic human-style walking and running. The new frontier is taking that form factor and turning them into super-humans, whether by performing gymnastics or applying logic and reason to the world in front of them.

We’re still a long way from AGI that’ll help robots get chores done, but if we continue on this trajectory, it seems unlikely robots will be doing the mundane tasks that humans don’t want to do. We allowed AI to skip all the boring stuff and jump right ahead to making music and writing poetry. It seems silly to think we’re building an army of butlers to serve humanity with that technology. No, we’re probably going to be letting the robots paint beautiful landscapes while we’re all stuck at our desks filling out Excel spreadsheets if the recent past is any guide.

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