Every time one of the leading robotics companies releases a new video showing off their hard work, humans on the internet react with a mixture of awe and horror.
The team at Boston Dynamics never disappoint, and their latest update on the humanoid Atlas, with its cryptic title and lack of detail, basically just looks like bragging. Awesome, awesome bragging.
Boston Dynamics, a robotics lab that started out as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), then was bought by Alphabet, and then sold on to Japanese company Softbank, is renowned for making machines with lifelike movements.
Researching the locomotion of humans and animals in order to replicate them in machines has been one of the most monumental tasks in robotics to date, and this team is at the top of the game.
Their family of adorable and uncanny creations includes BigDog, a four-legged robot mule funded by DARPA that can scale rough terrain including mud and rubble, and carry 150 kg (330 lbs) on its back.
There’s also the less military-looking Spot – a slightly smaller and more endearing quadruped who went viral after Boston Dynamics revealed incriminating footage of it being kicked. This was done to demonstrate its remarkable stability, by the way.
And then there’s Atlas. This humanoid isn’t nearly as adorable as the Nao or as expressive as the ’emotionally intelligent’ Nadine, but the developers do credit Atlas as being the “world’s most dynamic humanoid”.
The bipedal robot uses a slew of sensors in its body and legs to keep balance, and uses LIDAR and stereo sensors to detect and avoid obstacles. Despite its lack of a face, Atlas’s movement abilities are indeed remarkable.
The last generation of the robot was showed off in February last year, when the engineers demonstrated how the robot could open doors, stomp through snow, and easily stack heavy boxes. (It also got whacked with a hockey stick to demonstrate its ability to maintain balance. Aww.)
Now, nearly two years since the last Atlas update, the team has posted a brief clip of their latest achievements, showing off how athletic the humanoid has become. Frankly, we’re floored.
Not only can Atlas scale ever-higher obstacles by jumping, it can also do a 180 degree horizontal spin in the air. And to top it off, it can do a full backflip, as you can see in the video below:
Honestly, we can’t stop watching that backflip. Here’s a slow-motion GIF just so you can enjoy it again:
Yeah. If we worked at Boston Dynamics, we’d be bragging too.
Bonus: A few days ago they also published a teaser for the latest iteration of the extremely pet-like SpotMini – we think it has eyes?
“For more information . . . stay tuned,” was all the company said in the video description. We’re definitely tuned.