Boston Dynamics Robots Learned Run, Jump, and Parkour Thanks to Its Vision

Boston DynamicsSpotMini robot dog and its humanoid companion Atlas came a long way in 2018. SpotMini can now perfectly walk up a flight of stairs, and dynamically react to its environment, while Atlas memorably mastered parkour. Those advancements, though dextrous, were actually made possible thanks to the gift of sight.

The SoftBank-owned company retrofitted its mechanical creations with an obstacle avoidance system. The robots create a Matrix-like, three-dimensional map of its surroundings. While this isn’t at all how humans see, this is the update that made the majority of this year’s viral Boston Dynamics videos possible.

In short, SpotMini and Atlas became more human thanks to their glitch-art vision.

This is #2 on Inverse’s list of the 20 Ways A.I. Became More Human in 2018.

The robotic pup is seen in the video above navigating around the outdoors and an office environment. It uses onboard cameras to localize itself and collect data to create its map. Once the operator commands bots to get moving, the bots are then able to do all of this autonomously.

The company likely won’t offer SpotMini or Atlas to consumers any time soon, but the vision technique Boston Dynamics have implemented could make waves in the years to come. Early iterations of household robots are already available. These bots will undoubtedly need to have the ability to navigate a home without smashing into walls.

So, years from now, when your future assistant bot hands you your morning cup of coffee without dousing you in scalding water, remember you have SpotMini and the leaping, bounding Atlas to thank.

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