Boston Dynamics’ Atlas Robot Is Getting Good, and Now I’m Nervous

Atlas learned some parkour moves.

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Oct 11 2018, 7:47pm

Usually I feel pretty confident about my ability to go a few rounds in the ring with a robot. And so far, Boston Dynamics’ creations have seemed like pathetic contenders. They fall, suck at having legs, and generally don’t impress me much. I’ve even consulted with MMA coaches about how to hand their metallic asses back to them.

While I was shit-talking on the internet, these robots were studying parkour—and I’m starting to regret challenging them. Boston Dynamics just released a new video of its bipedal humanoid robot, Atlas, and damn, it’s really movin’ now.

In the video, Atlas jaunts toward a log and hops over it with ease. It then takes on a series of staggered-height boxes, hopping on-by-one to the top of the pile. It does a little jog in place at the top, Rocky-style. Practice for when it’s climbing over humanity’s bones, probably. It does all of this using computer vision to see the obstacles, jumping over a foot high without losing its balance.

I’m not sure I could do some of this stuff as gracefully as Atlas. Previously, it was able to jog and jump straight up, but this side-to-side hopping is an advancement in keeping balance over difficult obstacles.

Maybe we should stop kicking robots now. I’m afraid they’re going to remember, and learn to spin-kick my overconfident ass into the next millennium.