"What have you been up to lately, Atlas?" Boston Dynamics asks rhetorically in the description for the video below. The obvious answer: Working on a gymnastics routine that's so dang good, the odds of having a participant from (Hail Hail) Robonia in the 2024 Summer Olympics now seem to be quite high.
The video, posted by Boston Dynamics to YouTube, comes just three days after the engineering and robotics company released a teaser clip of its revised and polished SpotMini. It seems the company that was sold by Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., to Japan's SoftBank Group earlier this year has a new urge to dazzle. And dazzle this updated Atlas most certainly does.
The Atlas line of humanoid robot has been evolving at Boston Dynamics for some time now, with an early tethered version seen running through the woods like a focused horror movie villain, and a later smaller and untethered version seen demonstrating an extraordinary level of balance (and calm in the face of being assaulted with a hockey stick). In the above clip, we're looking at what appears to be a new iteration of Atlas, with a few cosmetic/hardware upgrades, and likely a ton of changes under the
hood chest piece.
Before Atlas could catch its balance when you pushed it. Now it's able to jump, twist, and backflip like it's trying out for a part in Cirque du Soleil.
And if you're thinking that any lame mall display toy can pull off a backflip or anything else Atlas is seen doing in the clip, keep in mind that this robot is able to move around freely in its environment because it sees its environment -- Atlas uses LiDAR and stereo vision to develop a sense of its surroundings. While the toy at the mall can only backflip under exact conditions, Atlas can likely determine where it can or can't backflip. This is "likely" because although Atlas has demonstrated the ability to maneuver autonomously around its environment before, it's unclear if that applies to these new moves.
Regardless of whether or not Atlas can only pull off this routine in one location or not, this little sequence certainly seems like big progress in robot maneuverability. Enough to earn some kind of medal, anyway.
What do you think about this Atlas gymnastics routine? Are you totally flipping out right now?! Let us know in the comments below!
Images: Boston Dynamics
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