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Oh No—Those Boston Dynamics Robots Can Now Do ‘Parkour.’ See for Yourself

October 12, 2018, 9:18 AM UTC

Amid this week’s depressing news about looming, climate-change-induced disaster, perhaps we can take solace in the possibility of fast-moving, unstoppable robots getting us first. That’s right; it’s time for another Boston Dynamics demonstration video.

Earlier this year, the SoftBank-owned outfit taunted us with a clip of its SpotMini robot opening a door with its claw-like arm (positioned where the head should be, for extra nightmare points.) Then it showed us Atlas, its more humanoid-ish creation,going for a jog.

The one ray of light in that jogging video was the fact that Atlas needed to stop running before jumping over a log. So, come the uprising, will logs be our friends? Nope. Here’s Atlas running up to a log and effortlessly leaping over it—before engaging in what Boston Dynamics describes as parkour.

“Parkour” might be pushing it slightly—let’s see Atlas propel itself with its arms—but the robot is certainly able to jump around a complex environment comprised of a zigzagging stack of steps.

Here’s Boston Dynamics’ explanation of what’s going on in that video: “The control software uses the whole body including legs, arms and torso, to marshal the energy and strength for jumping over the log and leaping up the steps without breaking its pace… Atlas uses computer vision to locate itself with respect to visible markers on the approach to hit the terrain accurately.”

Google at one point thought it was a good idea to own and nurture Boston Dynamics, a defense contractor, before realizing the optics were less than great. It sold the company to SoftBank (SFTBY) last year.

Boston Dynamics said in July that it will start selling its SpotMini dog-with-claw-arm-where-head-should-be robots in 2019, with possible applications lying in the fields of construction, security and delivery. Though seriously, would you really unlock the door?