Tech

Watch Boston Dynamics' parkour bots compete in the creepy Olympics

Nothing like a couple robots jumping around like cyborg assassins to get your blood flowing.

Boston Dynamics is no stranger to weirding people out. The company’s got hair-raising robotic dance numbers, a dog with an arm on its head, and who could forget the “Wildcat?” But even with those shining examples of robotic creepiness, their newest “parkour” stunt manages to up the off-putting ante.

📷: Boston Dynamics' Wildcat robot

Parkour Pt. II

This isn’t even the first time we’ve seen Boston Dynamics’ Atlas bots doing “parkour,” which in this case means doing pre-programmed runs around a plywood obstacle course, but it’s (at least from our perspective) easily the most human-looking demonstration to date.

Probably the creepiest part of Atlas’ recent feats is its human-like balancing techniques. Watch as the bot uses its arms to stabilize after jumping over obstacles.

Let’s not discount just how hard it is to mimic bipedal motion in a hydraulic robot either. As noted by some behind-the-scenes interviews with Boston Dynamics’ team, Atlas’ feats are choreographed as opposed to contemporaneous and often involve lots of crashing.

Realistically speaking, Atlas is still more of a tool for R&D than a threat to human supremacy, and if you can look past the uncanny valley of it all, there’s a lot to be excited about. At the very least, we can enjoy the innocent fun while it lasts.