Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot performs parkour

In the latest eye-catching demonstration of its somewhat unsettling technological prowess, robotics specialist Boston Dynamics has unveiled footage of its humanoid Atlas robot performing parkour.  

In the video, the 1.5 metre tall battery-powered robot – which was originally developed as part of a DARPA  (United States Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) funded project  – can be seen running, jumping over a log, and powering up a series of 40cm high steps

According to the company, Atlas’s control system coordinates the motions of its arms, torso, and legs to achieve whole-body mobile manipulation. The robot has previously been shown performing backflips and recovering its balance after being pushed over.

Originally spun out from MIT, Boston Dynamics first made its name with the terrifying Big Dog robot and has unveiled a number of headline-grabbing robots since, including Handle – a two-wheeled machine able to hurdle obstacles at speed; Cheetah, which holds the land speed record for legged robots  (18mph); and spot mini, a headless, one-armed robotic dog designed to operate around the home!

The firm was acquired by Google in 2013 and sold to Japan’s SoftBank Group for an undisclosed sum in 2017.  The Engineer interviewed the company’s founder, Marc Raibert, back in 2010.