This Boston Dynamics Atlas video won’t help your robot-apocalypse fears

Brittany A. Roston - Nov 16, 2017
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This Boston Dynamics Atlas video won’t help your robot-apocalypse fears

Remember Boston Dynamics‘ Atlas robot, the robot that just a few years ago was toddling around with a physical cable tethering it to its controller? Robots grow up quickly, it seems, as Boston Dynamics has just shown off the Atlas robot performing a variety of complex movements, doing so entirely wire-free.

Atlas is, unlike Boston Dynamics’ four-legged canine-ish robots, a humanoid robot that walks on two legs. In its earliest iterations, Atlas was blocky and rigid, tethered to an operator using a thick cable, struggling to walk without falling over. The movements were unnatural, and though researchers made progress on it rapidly, the robot was still tethered and mastering two-leg movement as recently as 2015.

The video above shows Atlas going for a jog outside, a huge upgrade in abilities for the robot. That was in 2015. The video below shows Atlas now, and it is hardly recognizable as the same machine. The robot is now wireless and is shown navigating a simple obstacle course with complex movements, the most astounding being the successful backflip it performs off a tall block.

Boston Dynamics recently shared the video on its YouTube account; there’s no details with it, just the incredible demonstration of equally incredible progress in the field of robotics. Whereas the Atlas of a couple years ago was nearly comical in its exaggerated, mechanical clumsiness, the Atlas of today is nearly human-like in its movements.


This video follows one from earlier this week showing off a new version of the SpotMini robot. That particular robot has four legs with movements similar to that of a dog. While the original SpotMini was comical and the source of many wisecracks, the latest version is — much like Atlas — agile, lifelike, and a hint of our eventual robotic future.


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