When everyone was wondering what Google had in mind for all its new robotics companies, "teaching robots martial arts" was probably one of the more paranoid guesses. But here we are with a new video from Boston Dynamics, somehow both whimsical and unsettling, in which their robot Atlas balances on one leg atop a stack of cinderblocks, re-enacting that scene from The Karate Kid.
Watch it for yourself, but note, not only is it the stuff of nightmares, it’s accompanied by a shrill alarm, so you should mute your computer first.
Boston Dynamics, which used to be funded by DARPA before getting bought by Google a year ago, also makes the animal-like robots BigDog and Cheetah. Atlas debuted in 2013 and Boston has released several videos of the robot slowly climbing over rubble and removing debris — the hope is that eventually Atlas could be sent on dangerous rescue missions. Its balance appears to have improved since the days of flailing up stairs while leaning on the wall.