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SYFY WIRE robots

Boston Dynamics’ new robots jump, twist, flip, & fetch — and bring Skynet cyborgs one step closer

By Benjamin Bullard
The Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics may be on its way to serving up the first cyborg Olympian. After watching the latest progress on what its in-development, humanoid, two-legged Atlas robot can do, at least, it makes us want to get back in the gym. 

The tech company showed off its progress on Atlas, which it describes as “a research platform designed to push the limits of whole-body mobility,” alongside the final debut of the aptly-named, four-legged Spot, a long in-development dog-like robot that’s about to hit the real-world market as a customizable helper for “construction sites …gas, oil and power installations, and in public safety.”

Check out Atlas doing some insane airborne pirouettes below, followed by his four-legged friend — whom Boston Dynamics says is finally prepared to begin leasing out to clients:

Powered by a real-time, algorithm-controlled mobility system composed of 28 hydraulic joints, Atlas is (obviously) capable of split-second finessing of the information it receives from its environment, and making instantaneous decision about how to negotiate obstacles (or just hop around like a steely parkour champ). 

Spot, meanwhile, can operate for up to 90 minutes off a rechargeable battery, adapting to a multitude of uses with a “base platform [that] provides rough-terrain mobility, 360 degree obstacle avoidance, and various levels of navigation, remote control and autonomy,” according to the company.

Most significantly, and in contrast with the countless videos we’ve seen of similar tech over the past several years, both Atlas and Spot can do all their mind-blowing tricks without a tether. In each model, the power source, software, and real-time processing power is built in. That means it’s not inconceivable that we could one day see a two-legged cyborg and his doggo buddy happily taking each other for a walk…or, if you want to get dystopian, crashing down your door to sniff out that hidden technological Mcguffin.