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12 Oct 2018

This terrifying robot by Boston Dynamics can now chase you

Boston Dynamics' super robot Atlas is back. And, this time it's not just strolling or doing backflips, but also leaping over obstacles like a real commando.

For the uninitiated, Atlas is a freakishly talented humanoid made by Boston Dynamics, a SoftBank-owned robotics company.

It has got a pair of hands, legs and is as real as it can get.

Let's see its latest trick.

In context

Boston Dynamics' Atlas seen hopping over obstacles
Atlas does 'Parkour'

Parkour trick

Atlas does 'Parkour'

Parkour is a recreational activity where a person moves rapidly through an area, avoiding obstacles by way of jumping and leaping over things.

Normally, soldiers, search and rescue teams train for this activity, but here, Atlas is doing the same.

In a new video, the bipedal machine can be seen jogging, hopping over a log, and climbing up massive, 40cm high steps.


Not a single break in pace, but how?

Atlas avoids obstacles, but what's even more tantalizing is the fact it does so without a single wobble/break in pace. It just starts and goes on.

This is the work of its control software and computer vision technology.

The former gets Atlas to climb up while shifting body weight and momentum from one leg to other, while the latter determines where to land.

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Atlas' body has 28 joints

Weighing around 75Kg, Atlas uses as many as 28 joints and hydraulic actuation for performing super maneuvers like these. It stands around 5-ft and can even carry as much as 11Kg of load on its back.

Possible use in search and rescue missions


Possible use in search and rescue missions

Watching a two-legged machine avoid hurdles like this is definitely scary, but no need to worry, this is not a 'killer robot'. Not yet!

The idea behind this clip, as presumed, is to showcase how effective Atlas could be in search and rescue missions when it's fully ready.

It could be deployed during disasters to reach places where humans can't go and save lives.

Previous tricks

However, this isn't the first trick from Atlas

Though Boston Dynamics has spent years working on human-like machines, it has not been long since we saw Atlas for the first time.

The battery-powered humanoid was unveiled two years ago as a more streamlined avatar of its predecessor.

Initially, it strolled around, stacked up boxes, and opened doors, but then last year, we saw those insanely crazy backflips.

Where does this take us?


Where does this take us?

Clearly, Boston Dynamics is making progress with Atlas. It has learned some crazy skills and will only get better.

From hereon, the possibilities are endless. We could be seeing the birth of a 'killer bot' that could chase us in seconds or a machine that'd work for saving lives.

Boston Dynamics is aiming for the latter, but still, the rest remains to be seen.

Alphabet previously owned Boston Dynamics

Before SoftBank, Google's parent Alphabet owned Boston Dynamics. However, seeing no commercial use of these robots, it decided to sell the robotics company and its products (Atlas, Spot Mini, Handle, WildCat) to the Japanese giant.

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