There's no escaping this. Just two years ago Boston Dynamics proudly showed off a new generation of its Atlas robot that could take an untethered stroll through the woods, before advancing to balancing on one leg and even landing a backflip. Its latest highlight reel, however, is one that should make this guy very, very afraid. Dubbed "Parkour," it features a bipedal battery-powered robot that not only jogs, but hops over obstacles and up an uneven obstacle course with nary a bobble. The 'bot now has enough processing power to use its legs, arms and torso to balance through the movements and power up each 40cm-high step, while using computer vision to locate the next one. Sure, the advertisement is that such a robot could navigate through disasters to rescue squishy humans stuck in precarious situations, but we can certainly imagine alternative applications. Japan's Softbank bought Boston Dynamics and its robots from Alphabet a little over a year ago, and likely has aspirations for the technology that reach far beyond hit YouTube videos.
Everyones favorite future robot overlords are back with a new trick: parkour. SoftBank-owned Boston Dynamics released a short video today that shows its bipedal humanoid Atlas robot breezing over a log before showing some serious ups as it hops to the top of a set of staggered boxes. Its another feather in the cap of the small Massachusetts outfit, which has regularly teased new robots with new capabilities for years now despite having been abandoned by Google. While its still not totally clear whether Boston Dynamics will find paying customers for these robots, just look at the list of Things Boston Dynamics Robots Can Do: Now that parkour has been added to this list, I hereby propose a free idea that I hope some media conglomerate snatches up: Robot Ninja Warrior. Think of it like a reboot of the DARPA robotics challenge, but with bleachers full of loud fans, lots of flashing lights and loud music, and plenty of #robotfails. Or maybe another reboot of American Gladiators. We can have our best, our strongest, and our fastest square off against robots like Atlas. Loser gets knocked onto a giant, squishy gym mat. Winner gets to rule the world.