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kottke.org posts about Boston Dynamics

Robots Doing Parkour

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 18, 2021

Well. The robots sure are getting good at moving around — running, jumping, doing flips, casually vaulting over railings like an eighth grader trying to impress friends. It is eerie and weird and uncanny and all other such adjectives watching these machines smoothly caper around like humans. Even in the blooper reel they seem really toddler-esque.

Full Metal Gymnast

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2019

Boston Dynamics programmed their Atlas robot to do a gymnastics routine.

I lost it when it did that little jump split at about 13 seconds in. That looked seriously human in a deeply unsettling way.

The Twerking Robot

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2018

Hot off the heels of their video showing a humanoid robot casually doing parkour, Boston Dynamics has made a clip of their robot dog doing a hip hop dance routine to Uptown Funk.

While the robot in the parkour video looked distinctly un-human at times, I have to say that this dog robot is a much better and more fluid dancer than I expected — it’s got better moves than most of the people I’ve seen dancing at Midwestern weddings. The robot does what looks like the running man and then twerks while mugging for the camera. I don’t know what level of cultural appropriation this is and Boston Dynamics is probably just doing this to distract from the whole Terminator narrative, but was anyone else the tiniest bit jealous of and turned on by (and then deeply ashamed of those feelings) the robot’s moves?

Oh, the Boston Dynamics Robot Can Do Parkour Now

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 11, 2018

I’ve watched this a dozen times now and it looks fake and I can’t figure out quite why. Is it the uncanny valley at work? This thing moves mostly like a human would…but not entirely. Look at the robot when it hops over the log. It appears too effortless…not enough recoil on the landing or something. And going up the steps, it looks like it’s levitating, like how CG characters sometimes move, unaffected by actual contact with surfaces. See also the robot’s casual gymnastics.

OMG, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot can do an f-ing BACKFLIP!

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 16, 2017

So, the jumping from box to box seemed cool. Hey, robot parkour! It seemed awfully agile for something that looks like it weighs quite a bit, but ok. But the casual gymnastics about 20 seconds in broke my brain. Holy. Crap.

Boston Dynamics’ new house-trained robot

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2016

Boston Dynamics has a new 55-pound robot with an arm that looks like a head. It gets up after slipping on banana peels and can load your delicate glassware into the dishwasher.

Do they deliberately make these videos unsettling and creepy? Or is that just me? That last scene, where the robot kinda lunges at the guy and then falls over…I might have nightmares about that.

Giant new robot excels at taking human abuse

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2016

Boston Dynamics, creator of the Big Dog prancing robot, has upgraded their Atlas robot, which can walk on two legs, open doors, stack boxes, walk on slippery terrain, recover from being shoved, etc. And everyone’s all HA HA HA TERMINATOR but soon enough the HA HAs will become less hearty and more nervous. It took human ancestors hundreds of thousands of years to evolve from quadrupeds to bipeds and Boston Dynamics has done the same in just a few years.

Mark my words: no good will come of playing box keep-away with robots and treating them like, well, machines. It’s already started…did you notice Atlas didn’t even look behind itself to see if it needed to hold the door for anyone? And you think manspreading on the subway is a problem…wait until we have to deal with robotspreading by robots whose ancestors we shoved with hockey sticks.

Update: The hockey stick is back, accompanied by some “robust” tail pulling:

When the entire corpus of YouTube casually becomes a training ground for “young” AI programs, the bots are going to watch this and be all like, “WTF!?” and it’s gonna be on.