Over the years we’ve documented Boston Dynamics incremental steps in either (a) creating a future life of leisure for humanity via robot helpers or (b) ensured our future enslavement/doom at the hands of robot overlords.
In the last year, we’ve seen their backflipping robots and door-opening dog-bots, and now today the cutting-edge robotics company has released video showing the next step – or is that leap – in the evolution of its humanoid ‘Atlas’ robot: it’s ability to navigate a stepped platform on the run using parkour-like agility.
It actually looks a little weird to the eye – I considered for a moment that it might be CG – but I think that is just a function of the difference between what a biological organism can achieve vs a machine (e.g. sensory processing is much faster, so reaction/stabilisation based on that feedback would occur much faster).
Atlas does parkour. The control software uses the whole body including legs, arms and torso, to marshal the energy and strength for jumping over the log and leaping up the steps without breaking its pace. (Step height 40 cm.) Atlas uses computer vision to locate itself with respect to visible markers on the approach to hit the terrain accurately.