Boston Dynamics’ robots can parkour better than you

Don’t expect an easy escape if one of Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robots is ever chasing you. Hyundai’s own company shared a video (below) showing the humanoid bots successfully completing a parkour routine on an obstacle course for the first time. The two Atlas machines jumped gaps, arched bars, and even coordinated a backflip without missing a beat – they could be more graceful than you.

The routine took “months” to develop, according to the company, and served as a useful test of the robots’ ability to maintain balance while changing behaviors and coordinating actions. This isn’t just prepackaged behavior either. As with other recent tests, Atlas now uses visuals to match its movement to course.

However, don’t worry that the robots will be hunting you down anytime soon. The vault, in particular, has an error rate of around 50 percent, and there is still a small chance of error at every step. Even a fist pump at the end didn’t go smoothly, said Boston Dynamics. The company still has to refine motion sequences that are limited by the nature of the robots themselves, such as the missing spine and the relatively weak arm joints.

As it stands, Atlas is not a production robot like Spot. It is a research model that aims to push the boundaries of robotics. However, Boston Dynamics envisions that this parkour practice will lead to future helper robots capable of performing a variety of tasks with human-like dexterity. Let’s just hope they stay on our good side.

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