Engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics is known for its impressively dextrous robots, and the team continues to wow people around the world with its latest releases. Now, the company’s much loved Atlas model is being pushed to its limits to discover the next generation of mobility, perception, and athletic intelligence. It has recently learned some impressive parkour moves—a sport of moving through obstacles—including jumping, running along uneven platforms, and backflips.
It took about a month of training to turn Atlas into the hardcore parkour sensation it is today. The 5-foot-tall, 190-pound robot has an on-board battery, RGB cameras and depth sensors, along with three built-in computers. Training Atlas to perform parkour sequences came with countless tumbles. However, each fall helped the AI build a more concrete understanding of the course and how best to master it. “It can be frustrating sometimes the robots crash a lot,” said Atlas Controls Lead Benjamin Stephens. “It's not the robot just magically deciding to do parkour. It's kind of a choreographed routine much like a skateboard video or a parkour video where it's an athlete who has practiced these moves dozens or hundreds of times even to get to that high level that exciting capability. So we are kind of doing the same thing here with Atlas, exploring how to push it to its limits.”
By training Atlas to maneuver its way through difficult courses, Boston Dynamics is developing new movements inspired by human behaviors and pushing the humanoid robot to new heights. After all that hard work and dedication, the engineers at Boston Dynamics can sit back and reap the benefits. For the first time, the Atlas robots completed the complex obstacle course nearly flawlessly.