It’s been a while since we last heard from Boston Dynamics. The last time the company made headlines, it had been bought out by the Korean automotive company, Hyundai, and before that, was selling Spot, its four-legged robot to anyone who would buy it. Well, it seems that the company has moved on and is currently working on bipedal robots that can do parkour.
That last bit isn’t a typo. The new robots, called Atlas bots, stand at five feet tall, weigh approximately 87kg, and are capable of running obstacle courses that are similar to what traceurs – the official title of a person who does parkour – would use to hone their skills. If that doesn’t impress you, the fact that these robots are capable of actually performing full-on backflips from ledges and landing on their feet.
Even better than a backflipping robot? None of the Atlas robots’ movements is “pre-programmed”, meaning that all the skills were obtained through on-the-fly environmental adaptation. To put it in another way, these robots gained their skills through trial and error, in the same way a sportsman would learn from their mistakes during training.
For that matter, the embedded video shows the trials and errors made by the Atlas robots and its engineers, with the former clearly being seen missing its marks several times and falling flat on their metallic rumps. All in all, it’s a fun video to watch and certainly is a far cry from its other robot, Handle.