Boston Dynamics has yet again managed to impress us and totally freak us out at the same time.
The robotics firm published a new video Tuesday with its humanoid robots, called Atlas, going beast mode on a parkour gym. The company describes it as a landmark for teaching robots the human behavior involved in mastering —with some hiccups – an obstacle course.
“For the first time today, both Atlas robots have completed the complex obstacle course flawlessly,” a Boston Dynamics announcement reads. “Or, almost flawlessly.”
In the video, the robots jump between raised slanted surfaces like they’re tearing up an American Ninja Warrior set. The moment when two Atlas robots simultaneously do back flips off of wooden blocks and land deftly on their feet in squat-to-Olympic photo finish…. I tell you, friends, that I gasped.
Like the robots, the 10-years-long Atlas project faced plenty of hurdles. And, as impressive as the parkouring C-3POs are, those not-so-cleanly-summited obstacles make for the best parts of the video. Yes, there’s a bloopers reel. And it’s incredibly satisfying to watch members of the inorganic race that will most certainly inherit the Earth fall on their damn faces.
Guys, it’s a learning process! When you fall you get back up again, didn’t they teach you that in robot pre-K, Atlas?
Actually, that’s pretty much verbatim what the Atlas researchers say about the blunders. They view the whole Atlas project as basically a test ground for improving robotic abilities at the company across the board. Parkour is an intentional part of that because it involves a high level of physical and mental processing and requires things humans would do subconsciously, like shifting balance. And, of course, there’s the learning-from-failure lesson in it all.
“We learn a lot from that in terms of how to build robots that can survive falling on their face and getting back up and doing it again,” a Boston Dynamics team member says in the video.
We’re glad that trial and error is helpful, especially since it results in beautiful faceplants like this.