Atlas is Back with Some New Moves

Atlas is back, and this time he’s got some sweet parkour moves to show off. Every few months, Boston Dynamics gives us a tantalizing glimpse into their robotics development labs. They must be doing something right, as these videos never fail both to amaze and scare us. This time Atlas, Boston Dynamics humanoid bipedal robot, is doing a bit of light parkour — jumping over a log and from box to box. The Atlas we’re seeing here is the evolution of the same robot we saw at the DARPA Robotics Challenge back in 2013.

The video caption mentions that Atlas is using machine vision to analyze the position of markers on the obstacles. It can then plot the most efficient path over the obstructions. The onboard control system then takes over and uses Atlas’ limbs and torso for balance and momentum as the robot jumps up and over everything in its path.

It’s interesting to see how smoothly Atlas jumps the offset staircase, leaping left to right from step to step. The jumping is extremely smooth and fluid — it seems almost human.  You can even see Atlas’ let foot just barely clear the box on the second jump. We have to wonder how many times Atlas fell while the software was being perfected.

One thing is for sure, logs and boxes may slow down zombies, but they won’t help anymore when the robot uprising starts.

30 thoughts on “Atlas is Back with Some New Moves

  1. >”We have to wonder how many times Atlas fell while the software was being perfected.”

    Boston Dynamics has a bad habit of making well-orchestrated puppet shows, so the question is rather, “How many times the robot fell before they got this video”.

    1. When humans learn to walk they don’t do that “straight out of the box” we all needed to learn it over a period of year(s) with much falling/failing. I won’t mention evolution as that took a little bit longer, but you get the point.

      It’s not a matter how many times it failed. It is a small miracle that they succeeded. This is quite an achievement not to be taken to lightly!

        1. Well, that’s the issue. You can make a stupid robot that runs through a bunch of recorded steps, and it works well enough to make a cool video once you edit out all the times the sequence didn’t go just right.

          It’s a whole different thing to actually make a robust system that works.

      1. What I meant is, Boston Dynamics often fakes their videos. I.e. if it fails 9 times out of 10, they publish the 1 time it actually went through.

        With the big dog robots for example, the robot got stuck in a dip, the camera cuts to a very slightly different angle, and up she goes again showing off her “recovery skills”. In reality they had it stuck there for good and had to shift its legs and reboot it.

        Or, the video where they show the other dog robots “collaborating” to open a door. They were both actually under radio control by a guy with an RC car transmitter, but you don’t see that in the video.

        1. Fake is probably not the word you’d want to use. Just because they only show the successful ones does not mean it’s fake. I’ve never read an article from them stating that their robots can do everything in one go either.

      1. Not yet…
        It’s interesting to consider why a robo-soldier is scary though, isn’t it? For me it’s the idea of something capable of killing people without remorse, maybe it’s just the fastest way to get the job done. Humans tend not to think like that, even in war zones.

        1. Remorse? Like a gun would have? Really I doubt most would want a “smart weapon” that suddenly decides not to fire, or blow up for…moral reasons. Or maybe just good old fashion self-preservation?

          1. A gun doesn’t make a decision, you can’t just have a platoon of guns and tell them to get on with it.
            That’s my point as well, humans do decide not to fire for moral reasons, the training these days tries to desensitise the people in the military to that, but they are still people.
            Mostly people don’t want to kill people, and that’s a good thing. When we hear of wartime atrocities we are outraged, and that’s a good thing.

      2. It would make better sense to mount the robot on a small tank chassis like a Bobcat skip loader. That way simplifies the design and software as well provide the power source for the robot.

        Of course that doesn’t impress the noobs and investors like a jumping robot does.

  2. The Enrichment Center is pleased to announce a new forced voluntary initiative requiring Atlas to be brought to the Aperture Science Computer Aided Enrichment Center for testing with portals. If Boston Dynamics refuses this optional initiative, the consequences will be severe. Remember that science rhymes with compliance. You know what doesn’t rhyme with science? Neurotoxin.

  3. “One thing is for sure, logs and boxes may slow down zombies, but they won’t help anymore when the robot uprising starts.”

    It doesn’t matter how sophisticated technology gets. The Romans, gave us marbles!

  4. You know what I see here…

    I see the product of old school video gamers. I see Atlas playing frogger and then jumping right into Q*bert. When I think of Boston Dynamics now I picture the cast of Pixels goofing off in a government robotics lab.

    Actually, that sounds like a fun place to be!

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