The latest footage from Boston Dynamics is, unsurprisingly, both impressive and terrifying. Over the past few years we've seen Atlas navigate uneven terrain and even jump around a parkour course. This is on another level, though. The bipedal robot does a handstand, rolls around and even does a few jumping twists -- all without losing its balance.
A new workflow helps Atlas pull off these smooth moves while also reducing development time and achieving a performance success rate of about 80 percent. "First, an optimization algorithm transforms high-level descriptions of each maneuver into dynamically-feasible reference motions," says Boston Dynamics. "Then Atlas tracks the motions using a model predictive controller that smoothly blends from one maneuver to the next."
It's unlikely that Softbank's robots will ever need to pull off sophisticated tumbling routines, but improved agility does bring them closer to one stated purpose: independently navigating hazardous and unpredictable environments as first responders of the future.
Boston Dynamics' Spot is now available for those who want a robotic companion for commercial use. While individuals can't purchase the doglike robot, enterprise customers can deploy a pack to help on construction, plant operations, and public safety jobs. Whether it's as useful as a human worker or not, Spot is sure to impress corporate clients.