Through the looking glass: The last few years have seen Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot evolve from a shambling, stumbling mess into an agile, backflipping machine. Now, Atlas has taken another step toward its inevitable final form of a Terminator-style killing machine programmed to wipe out all humans—possibly.
In the company's new video, called “Parkour,” we see Atlas jogging and leaping over a log with ease. It then tackles a multi-level platform, bounding from one 40cm-high step to another as it practices chasing its fleshy prey.
It was only a few years ago when robots like Atlas could barely put one foot in front of another without falling flat on their face—or what would be their face if they had heads. But thanks to advancements in software and processing power, the robot can now use its legs, arms, and torso to drive its jumps and for balancing. Atlas can also shift its weight from one foot to another as a human would.
Atlas uses computer vision to locate its position in relation to objects, allowing it to approach and hit, or avoid, obstacles with accuracy.
Last year, Boston Dynamics released a video of Atlas, which is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated, hopping, jumping, and landing a backflip—very impressive for a 6-foot 9-inch, 167-pound humanoid robot.
Following a year of rumors that it was looking to unload the company, Google parent Alphabet sold Boston Dynamics to Softbank for an undisclosed sum in 2017. Its plans for the robots are unknown, but I, for one, am ready to welcome our future mechanical overlords.