A robot that can walk is one thing, but how about one that can do backflips? Today, Boston Dynamics released a video of its latest Atlas humanoid robot that can not only hop, jump and spin, but also do a complete backflip before sticking the landing like a gymnast. And, yes, it is both impressive and unnerving at the same time.
Boston Dynamics has been busy lately. Earlier this week, it released a video of the latest, streamlined version of its quadrupedal SpotMini robot that is so graceful it seems almost alive. Now the company is showing off the latest model of its Atlas robot line that is agile enough to perform acrobatics.
It wasn't so long ago that the Atlas robot, developed with the help of DARPA and showcased at the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge, impressed onlookers simply because it could walk and climb stairs without a tether or crashing to the floor every other step. Then it started balancing on one leg, cleaning its room, and then took to strutting about outdoors under its own power.
In addition, the robot became sleeker and more compact as new hydraulic systems and internal sensors were introduced. It also developed a remarkable sense of balance and could even recover its feet when a human coworker tried to knock it down. But it was still like most other humanoid robots its size in that it was very much earthbound and not capable of doing more than trotting along at a brisk pace – as impressive as that is.
Now Atlas is making moves like it's trying out for the Olympics. In the video, the robot hops onto a box, hops across to another box, then to the floor, then jumps onto a box twice a tall as the first two. So far, so impressive. But then it jumps into the air and spins around, lands back on the box, does another jump and midair spin, lands on the ground, then jumps on an even taller box.
Atlas then does another spin, squats, and leaps high into the air, where it executes a perfect backflip and lands on a platform while keeping its balance and raising its arms in triumph. For good measure, the video replays the flip in slow motion. This is followed by a second slow motion flip where the bot had a bit more trouble keeping its balance and, to show that nobody's perfect, a final attempt where the Atlas, instead of sticking the landing, lunges back into the box and knocks it over.
As is usual with these low-fanfare revelations, Boston Dynamics isn't revealing much else about this latest bot, but it appears the Atlas robot's capabilities are expanding in leaps and bounds.
The video of Atlas doing its flips can be viewed below.
Source: Boston Dynamics
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