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Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot failing at parkour is strangely humbling

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We knew the Boston Dynamics robots could dance (opens in new tab), but this is something else. Now, the company's much loved Atlas robot has learned to bust some gnarly parkour moves, backflips and all (above), but there's a pretty sensational blooper reel to go along with it (further down). 

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry right now, but these outtakes of Atlas falling flat on its arse (via Futurism (opens in new tab)) are sure to awaken some flavour of emotion for you—be it joyous or fearful.

It took a month of training to turn Atlas into the hardcore parkour star it is today. Just as a babe learns to walk, its newfound proficiency was underpinned by countless tumbles. Each fall helps the AI build a more concrete understanding of the course and how best to conquer it.

After all that hard work and dedication, it's time to sit back and reap the benefits. Among which sits this incredible outtakes video, cut from a longer video on the Boston Dynamics Youtube (opens in new tab) channel, and tweeted by science communicator Kyle Hill. Enjoy. 

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Earlier this month, we saw a new breed of AI pretty much ace the Blade Runner Voight-Kampff empathy test (opens in new tab), and Atlas doing parkour really takes the biscuit for me. It's just another example of how quickly AI is adapting to the strange human-made world it's confronted with. Hiccups are to be expected, of course, as with any tech project—not least one that involves highly mobile artificial intelligence.

So, AI takes another leap toward infiltrating the fabric of our everyday lives. The latest advancements mean AI can be your conversational partner, dance partner, and now even parkour partner. And you know Atlas will end up better than us.

With Elon Musk's plans for the Tesla bot (opens in new tab) surfacing, it seems the age of artificially intelligent butlers will soon be upon us. But the bloopers here show there's still a long way to go before we get them right.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for two years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.