The last time we saw Boston Dymanics's humanoid robot Atlas, it was running through the woods like a Walking Dead zombie. Now, the thing is giving Simone Biles a run for her money on the balance beam.
Okay, we might be exaggerating a bit, but Atlas can practically do gymnastics or yoga now. A video posted to YouTube last week (below) shows the robot balancing on one foot while standing on a plywood edge less than one inch thick. To put that in perspective, an actual balance beam is about four inches wide.
To give Atlas this new skill, Boston Dynamics got some help from the nonprofit Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), which developed the control algorithm and explained that the shaking "is caused by poor state estimation" since they used only onboard sensors.
Just keep in mind that, like a lot of things you see online, Atlas's balance stunt in the video is partially an illusion. IHMC said the video was recorded during a "lucky run."
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"Usually the robot is not able to maintain balance for this long," the team wrote.
Regardless, that one lucky run was pretty impressive.
Meanwhile, when Atlas is not creeping through the forest or training for the 2020 Olympics, it's working on its balance in the lab by walking swiftly over a pile of rocks that mimic the rough terrain a robot might encounter in a search-and-rescue or combat situation.
"All kinds of stuff happens out there and we're making pretty good progress on making it so that it has mobility that's sort of within shooting range of [a human's]," Boston Dynamics Founder Marc Raibert said last year. "I'm not saying it can do everything you can do, but you can imagine if we keep pushing, we'll get there."