Boston Dynamics is back at it again. This time, their Atlas robot joins the world of parkour.
Atlas is “the world’s most dynamic humanoid robot.” As a research platform, the robot is helping to define and develop whole-body mobility. Atlas makes use of 28 hydraulic joints, which consist of custom motors, valves, and a hydraulic power unit. These joints let Atlas deliver a great deal of power, creating mobility. That power is controlled by a system that uses algorithms to “reason through complex dynamic interactions involving the whole body and environment to plan movements.”
In the parkour video, those movements included a routine of several gymnastic moves. Atlas starts with a simple front roll before going into a diving roll. From there, he performs several jumps, more rolls, a leaping split, and a 360. Atlas even does an impressive handstand.
“We created the maneuvers using new techniques that streamline the development process,” writes Boston Dynamics. “First, an optimisation 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 per cent.” The latest video shows that Atlas can do more than just jogging, back flips, and avoiding obstacles. Now it’s able to string complicated moves together into a sequence.
Atlas is one of four robots that Boston Dynamics is currently working on. Currently, the robots are only available to companies for purchase. According to Boston Dynamics, Atlas’s purpose “is really to drive innovation inside our group, to push us to understand how to marry controls on complex machines. It is also to create an impression of what robots can do.”
The good news is that once Atlas learns how to hold and fire a gun, he’ll be able to chase you down no matter where you run . . . oh, wait. That’s not good news.