The pursuit of robotics is a fascinating one. How well can we make them do things that come easily to human motor skills? What could they do better? What can they never learn? Boston Dynamics is still doing their utmost to figure that out. Which is why they posted a recent video of their humanoid robot Atlas busting a move and showing off some new skills.
Programmed with new abilities with construction and building in mind, Atlas makes his way through a small obstacle course. Picking up a plank to make a bridge, then hefting a heavy bag into its arms, he traverses the path he’s made. After crossing his bridge, he leaps onto a higher platform and tosses the bag up to a technician on a higher platform. Whether intentional or not, there’s a cheerful swagger in Atlas’ movements as he makes his way.
There’s a distinct fascination watching a robot performing close-to-human movements, even funnier when they fail. But this makes us smile. To put an exclamation point on its accomplishment, Atlas completes his course with a flourish only possible for most people good at parkour. Pushing a box off a ledge, he hops down, perches on its edge and then performs a sick 540 inverted flip. Not only does Atlas stick the landing, but he does a fist pump to celebrate.
Naturally when videos like this are posted, you get your share of divided comments. People either think it’s scary, awesome, or — oddly — not human enough. That last one seems a little unfair given how difficult this is to accomplish. We think you’re awesome Atlas. And what this could mean for the future of construction is definitely one to think about.