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Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot can now navigate obstacles Parkour-style and it’ll haunt your nightmares

Published Oct 11th, 2018 5:02PM EDT
Boston Dynamics Atlas robot
Image: Boston Dynamics

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Are we watching the birth of the robot rebellion before our eyes? Check out the latest video of Boston Dynamics’ freakishly talented Atlas robot, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the final days of the Age of Man are at hand. Ok, ok, maybe that’s unnecessary hyperbole. But we’ll see if you still think so when this machine from the Softbank-owned robotics design company that can apparently now do Parkour is chasing you and ready to let slip the robot dogs of war.

At this point, Atlas’ human fathers at Boston Dynamics have become masters at generating Internet buzz over the latest abilities of their machine offspring which, at least at this point, doesn’t seem like it’s on its way to kill you. While Google jettisoned its ownership of the company over a perceived lack of commercial use, the small firm has still managed to give its robots like Atlas a ton of skills even if it’s not clear why you’d actually buy one of these things yet. They can execute perfect backflips, wash dishes, lift boxes, open doors and more.

In some verbiage along with the video clip released today, Boston Dynamics explains that Atlas can do Parkour thanks to control software that “uses the whole body including legs, arms and torso, to marshal the energy and strength for jumping over the log and leaping up the steps without breaking its pace. (Step height 40 cm.) Atlas uses computer vision to locate itself with respect to visible markers on the approach to hit the terrain accurately.”

Atlas looks so much like a mechanized super solider that someone at The Verge had this bright idea for it: Robot Ninja Warrior. Because training these things with skills that could be used to wipe us all out sounds fun and would definitely make for great copy.

Per The Verge: “Think of it like a reboot of the DARPA robotics challenge, but with bleachers full of loud fans, lots of flashing lights and loud music, and plenty of #robotfails. Or maybe another reboot of American Gladiators. We can have our best, our strongest, and our fastest square off against robots like Atlas. Loser gets knocked onto a giant, squishy gym mat. Winner gets to rule the world.”

Please God, no. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the last thing I see in this life to be a robot soundlessly doing backflips and jumping over obstacles as it gets closer and closer.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.