Boston Dynamics' Atlas shows off new skills

Ahead of the next inevitable round of herp de derp "Skynet iz here" hot takes on social media, Boston Dynamics showed off more of its Atlas robot's stunning agility and dexterity in a new demo video Wednesday morning. This time, the humanoid machine had to deliver a tool bag to the top of some scaffolding using only its roboparkour powers.

Video Transcript


- Boston Dynamics showed off more of it's Atlas robots stunning agility and dexterity in a new demo video Wednesday morning. This time the humanoid machine was tasked with delivering a tool bag to the top of some scaffolding using only its robo Parkour powers. In the video Atlas shows a surprising amount of forethought grabbing and placing a wooden plank across a large gap even before heading over to pick up the tool bag itself. From there it's a simple matter of climbing a set of stairs, bouncing across the plank it laid, hopping up a couple of ledges, jump spinning in place to turn around, and then hucking the bag over its head to the platform above. That show of forethought, balance, and decision making wouldn't be possible without the Atlas' highly advanced predictive control system.

To top off the demonstration Atlas then shoves a large shipping box off of it's platform, carefully avoiding not tilting over the side itself, before dismounting with an inverted 540 flip. Project engineers have dubbed it The Sick Trick. To know where it is relative to the world and objects around it the Atlas relies heavily on its vision systems. At the start of the century bipedal robots couldn't do any of this. They would wilt when confronted with a flight of stairs. Even a decade later in 2015 robots were still so challenged by the rigors of operating in a human scale environment, that we could and did run super cuts of them falling down. And today they, well, Boston Dynamics at least, Elon's robots are still barely more than a skinny guy in a suit. Atlas' they can outrun, out jump, and out climb the average sedentary American. It's a good thing the company has pledged not to use its legion of bag delivery bots for war. Don't expect an Atlas to replace your local UPS driver any time soon. For one, their union would never allow it.

For as impressive as this video is Atlas needed more than a few takes and suffered it's fair share of dents and scrapes in learning this routine, and that was in an enclosed, highly controlled environment after first exhaustively simulating the sequence virtually. So don't expect the Atlas to replace your local contractors in the near future either. Boston Dynamics certainly doesn't expect them to. For all of it's advancements the robot remains first and foremost a development platform dedicated to building the sort of foundational technologies that tomorrow's sunnies will rely on.