Boston Dynamics’ humanoid Atlas robot has learned how to balance itself on a scant two centimeters — roughly three-quarters of an inch — of upright plywood.
This video from IHMC Robotics shows the humanoid robot wobbling on its left leg for about 30 seconds before it falls. The video abruptly cuts out, but Atlas was presumably unharmed, as it appears to be secured by a couple of hooks connecting its head and the ceiling.
“This video was recorded during a lucky run, usually the robot is not able to maintain balance for this long,” IMHC Robotics writes in the video’s description. It also explains that Atlas is shaky because it’s only using its built-in sensors, which limits what IMHC Robotics is able to accomplish with the algorithm it wrote.
Still, this would be impressive even for a human. The International Gymnastics Federation says the standard balance beam is four inches wide — that’s more than four times as wide as the plywood edge on top of which Atlas balanced itself.
Here’s the full video showing off the incredible feat of robotic gymnastics:
But the attention paid to Atlas and Spot wasn’t enough to stop Alphabet —which owns Google and a bunch of other companies — from putting Boston Dynamics up for sale.
Until then, we’re left with entertaining videos like this one that show just how quickly we can teach robots to interact with their surroundings, even if they still run the risk of falling flat on their not-quite-faces when they don’t work properly.
Photos via IHMC Robotics / YouTube