The robots may not be ready to conquer humanity just yet, but apparently they’re ready to take us on in parkour.
Boston Dynamics—makers of Spot, the $75,000 robotic dog—has just released a video depicting a pair of its bipedal Atlas robots showing off their surprising athletic prowess. No, the clip doesn’t feature anything that will make top-level traceurs shake in their shoes, but it does prove that the bipedal droids can run, vault and flip with ease.
In the clip, which runs just over a minute, you can see one robot take a quick jog around an obstacle course, running along uneven surfaces, bounding up and down stairs and successfully completing a variety of jumps. Another robot enters from off screen and makes its way to the course’s highest point, at which point the first vaults over a balancing beam and leaps onto the same platform. The two droids then complete not one but two backflips onto the ground—in unison—before celebrating their triumph.
Amazingly, this wasn’t just a pre-programmed run through the course, according to Boston Dynamics. Even though months of preparation went into developing the routine, the run was meant to test (and showcase) the Atlas robot’s ability to use visual information and template behaviors to adapt to its environment.
Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games for the two mechanical friends. Boston Dynamics also shared a behind-the-scenes video that shows the robots having some difficulty with the course. At one point (starting at the 2:05 mark), you can even see them taking a couple hard spills. And in the final video, the second robot can be seen almost losing its footing before leaping on to the final platform. Regardless, even the falls are impressive.
Wondering when the Atlas robot will make it to market? Well, we wouldn’t hold our breath. As the Verge points out, the bipedal robot is really more of a research project, meant to work out programming and control systems. In other words, don’t expect it to become as widespread as Spot. Still, it’s clear the company’s efforts have taken a true leap forward.