Boston Dynamics' robots can parkour better than you

It's a good thing these robots are our friends.

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Boston Dynamics Atlas robot performing a parkour leap
Boston Dynamics

Don't expect an easy getaway if one of Boston Dynamics' Atlas robots ever chases you down. The Hyundai-owned firm has shared a video (below) of the humanoid bots successfully completing a parkour routine in an obstacle course for the first time. The pair of Atlas machines leapt gaps, vaulted beams and even coordinated a backflip, all without missing a beat — they might be more graceful than you are.

The routine took "months" of development, according to the company, and served as a useful test of the robots' ability to maintain their balance while switching behaviors and coordinating actions. This isn't just canned behavior, either. As with other recent tests, Atlas now uses visuals to adapt its movement to the course.

Don't worry that the robots will chase you down any time soon, though. The vault in particular has about a 50 percent failure rate, and there's still a slight chance of failure at each step. Even a fist pump at the end didn't go smoothly, Boston Dynamics said. The company still has to refine movements that are limited by the very nature of the robots themselves, such as the lack of a spine and the relatively weak arm joints.

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As it stands, Atlas isn't a production robot like Spot. It's a research model meant to push the limits of robotics. Boston Dynamics does, however, envision this parkour practice leading to future helper robots that can handle a wide variety of tasks with human-like dexterity. Let's just hope they stay on our good side.

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