Remember Atlas, the robot that can run like a person? It can now do a lot more than that.
Yesterday, (Oct. 11) robotics company Boston Dynamics posted a new video on YouTube showcasing the robot's latest progress, carrying it past its prior agility goals in leaps and bounds — literally.
"Atlas does parkour," Boston Dynamics wrote in the video description. Footage shows Atlas nimbly leaping over a log and skipping between platforms of different heights "without breaking its pace," according to the description. [Robots on the Run! 5 Bots That Can Really Move]
As Atlas navigates the challenges of the obstacle course, a slow-motion sequence emphasizes the precision in its movements as it leaps between platforms, each one measuring about 16 inches (40 centimeters) high. Software and vision sensors control Atlas's navigation, according to the video description — nevertheless, the robot's coordination seem remarkably humanlike for a machine.
Described on the Boston Dynamics website as "the world's most dynamic humanoid," Atlas has a four-limbed, bipedal frame that would invite comparison to the human body regardless of how the robot moved. But in a series of videos released over the last few years, Atlas demonstrates mobility this is uncannily human: recovering after being shoved, performing backflips, jogging over a grassy field and practicing robot parkour.
The prospect of a humanoid robot that can leap, backflip and bound after you over rugged terrain is unsettling enough, but Atlas's creators at Boston Dynamics keep pushing the bot toward ever more ambitious gymnastic achievements.
What's next for the nimble Atlas? Only its designers know for sure.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.