Watch Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robots Dominate a Parkour Course

Boston Dynamics on Tuesday shared a new video showcasing two Atlas humanoid robots completing a parkour routine across an obstacle course for the first time.

In the video, the first Atlas bot runs up a series of banked plywood panels, before jumping over a gap and running up and down a set of stairs. The second robot then leaps onto a balance beam and follows a similar path to the first robot, while the first bot jumps vaults across the beam. Both robots then perform simultaneous backflips and celebrate with their own signature moves in a final sequence.

According to the company, the routine, which required “months” of technical development, was nearly flawless, but not “precisely perfect.” Once the robots concluded their backflips, one was supposed to pump its arm “like a big-league pitcher after a game-ending strikeout.” While the robot did pump its arm, it stumbled slightly.

“We hadn’t run that behavior after the backflip before today, so that was really an experiment,” says Scott Kuindersma, the Atlas team lead at Boston Dynamics, in a statement. “If you watch the video closely, it looks a little awkward. We’re going to swap in a behavior we’ve tested before so we have some confidence it will work.”

Boston Dynamics claims that parkour is an ideal test activity for Atlas to experiment with new behaviors, requiring the humanoid bot to utilize its full body to maintain balance through a variety of fast-changing situations.

“There are a lot of pretty exciting behaviors here, and some of them are not totally reliable yet,” says Ben Stephens, the Atlas controls lead. “Every behavior here has a small chance of failure. It’s almost 90 seconds of continuous jumping, jogging, turning, vaulting, and flipping, so those probabilities add up.”

Watch the video above.

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