Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot learns to run and jump, while robot dog gets smarter


Atlas robotAtlas robot
Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot runs through a field. (Boston Dynamics via YouTube)

Cue the “Black Mirror” theme music … again: Boston Dynamics’ latest videos are likely to spark more nightmares for tech billionaire Elon Musk and others worried about the rise of the robots.

One video shows Boston Dynamics’ Atlas android robot jogging through a field and jumping over a log. The other video shows the doglike SpotMini robot taking a six-minute jog through a real-world office and lab facility (condensed into a three-minute clip).

The real trick to SpotMini’s trek, including its travel up and down some sketchy-looking staircases, is that it’s done autonomously.

“Before the test, the robot is manually driven through the space so it can build a map of the space using visual data from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the robot,” Boston Dynamics explained. “During the autonomous run, SpotMini uses data from the cameras to localize itself in the map and to detect and avoid obstacles. Once the operator presses ‘Go’ at the beginning of the video, the robot is on its own.”

Atlas, meanwhile, demonstrates a sense of balance on a par with its backflipping stunt from last November.

When that video hit YouTube, Musk issued a dark warning about where this all is going:

It may be mere coincidence that Boston Dynamics released its latest videos while government officials, industry executives and researchers gathered at the White House for a summit on artificial intelligence. But today’s developments seem perfectly suited for the opening scenes of a “Terminator” movie reboot.

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