Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot can now do backflips

Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm that was owned by Google/Alphabet for a while but then got sold to Softbank in June, has come a long way since BigDog.

The company has just released a video of its humanoid robot Atlas. In it, the bot jumps from the ground to crates, from one crate to another, and even from a crate to the floor while doing a backflip in the process.

Yes, you read that right - a backflip. Here's the video to prove it:

Center of gravity

I probably don't need to tell you that this is impressive. But the reason why it's impressive is because the robot is able to maintain its balance on landing despite its very high center of gravity and unstable legs.

Most of the time, anyway. Keep watching and you'll see the robot take a tumble at the end of the video. But the robot can now get back up on its own, so it has even less need to keep humans around.

"Atlas' ability to balance while performing tasks allows it to work in a large volume while occupying only a small footprint," says Boston Dynamics on its website. 

"Stereo vision, range sensing and other sensors give Atlas the ability to manipulate objects in its environment and to travel on rough terrain.  Atlas keeps its balance when jostled or pushed and can get up if it tips over."

The best bit of the video? It's got to be the little celebratory hand-raise after the backflip. Cute!

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.