The humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, now does backflips. I will repeat that. It is a hulking humanoid which really does backflips.
Have a look at the video below, because it reveals a hulking humanoid doing a backflip. And that is after it jumps from platform to platform, as if such behavior have become of a bipedal robot.
It’s extremely difficult to generate a bipedal robot which could move efficiently, much less kick off a tumbling routine. The attractiveness of four-legged robots is that they balance easily, both in rest and as they’re shifting, but bipeds like Atlas have to balance a bulky upper body onto just two legs.
But there is a case to be made for Atlas and another bipeds like Cassie (which walks more like a bird than a human). We are living in a universe built for people, so there could be situations in which you wish to deploy a robot which functions just like a human. If you need to explore a contaminated nuclear facility, for example, you’ll want something that can climb ladders and stairs, and turn valves. So a humanoid might be the best way to go.
If anything gets there, it is going to be Atlas. Over time, it’s grown not only more backflippy but lighter and much more dextrous and less prone to collapse on its surface. Even should it tumble, it can now get back up by itself. So it’s not hard to see a future when Atlas does really tread where fleshy humans dare not. Especially now that Boston Dynamics is a part of the Japanese megacorporation SoftBank, that could have some cash to spend.
While Atlas doing backflips is full-tilt mad, humanoids still battle. Manipulation, for one, introduces a big obstacle, because good luck replicating the human hand. And battery life is a nightmare, what with all of the balancing. But who knows, perhaps 1 day humanoids will flip into our own lives, or at the very least at the Olympics.