Watch Boston Dynamics Atlas Robots Parkour Like Human Pros In An Amazing Video Demo
Today, the Boston Dynamics team showed off twin bipedal Atlas robots running through a parkour course like seasoned pros. They jumped, ran up and down stairs, walked along a balance beam, and performed multiple backflips. Heck, one of the robots even celebrated by "brushing off" his shoulders as he "admired" his accomplishments.
Looking at the impressive performance of the Atlas robots, I wouldn't mind seeing them try out for American Ninja Warrior (just be careful of the water hazards). With that said, as Boston Dynamics continues to refine Atlas, its movements are seemingly becoming more humanlike and fluid. But there's still enough of those robotic tendencies baked in to make its actions a bit unsettling to our eyes.
But why would Boston Dynamics engineers want Atlas to parkour in the first place? What's the endgame for these antics that we've witnessed over the years? "It's really about creating behaviors at the limits of the robot's capabilities and getting them all to work together in a flexible control system," said Atlas Team Lead Scott Kuindersma. "There are many important problems that parkour doesn't force you to address, but that's not the point. We're not trying to solve everything all at once. The work we're doing now is allowing us to create a solid foundation for tackling the next set of research problems."
Although the engineers programmed this parkour exercise for Atlas, not every single step was hardcoded. "In this iteration of parkour, the robot is adapting behaviors in its repertoire based on what it sees," writes the Boston Dynamics team. "This means the engineers don't need to pre-program jumping motions for all possible platforms and gaps the robot might encounter. Instead, the team creates a smaller number of template behaviors that can be matched to the environment and executed online."
It's intriguing to see how far Atlas has come over the years, and we can't wait to see what obstacles the robot will overcome in the near future.