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Boston Dynamics’ Atlas Now Capable of Gymnastics

Credit: Boston Dynamics

He’s a dancin’ machine.

If you haven’t heard of it, Atlas is a humanoid robot developed by Boston Dynamics, a mechanical company known for its high-performance robots. You may have seen the uncanny dog-like movements of their “Spot” robot. Atlas has been in development for the past three years, and each time it appears in the public eye, it only becomes more incredible. In its initial appearances, it could walk and flex its arms. A couple of years later, it was running, jumping, and navigating obstacle courses. What’s its latest conquest, you ask? Break out the leotards, ’cause Atlas is doing gymnastics.

In a 30-second video released by Boston Dynamics on September 24th, Atlas showed off its impressive new range of movement in a brief choreographed routine. It can bend over, do jumping and standing somersaults, hold surprisingly stable handstands, and bounce whimsically in the air with its arms outstretched, with the entire routine punctuated by a defiant victory pose at the end.

“We created the maneuvers using new techniques that streamline the development process,” Boston Dynamics explained in the video’s description. “First, an optimization algorithm transforms high-level descriptions of each maneuver into dynamically-feasible reference motions. Then Atlas tracks the motions using a model predictive controller that smoothly blends from one maneuver to the next. Using this approach, we developed the routine significantly faster than previous Atlas routines, with a performance success rate of about 80%.”

At time of writing, the video has 6,283,460 views and 185 thousand likes. In Atlas’ previous appearance about a year ago, it was jogging and jumping. It’s anyone’s guess where this incredible machine will be in another year’s time. Maybe it could dance the Charleston, that’d be neat.