Watch Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot leave the lab for a run to clear its head

Isn’t it always the way? You wait for decades for a running robot and then two come along at once. Yesterday, we got the adorable sight of a little ‘bot from the University of Tokyo setting a charming pace of 4km/h, despite researchers attempts to poke it off course. Today, we have the more alarming sight of Boston Dynamics’ human-sized robot going for a run in the countryside, looking at a glance like someone running the London marathon for charity in really impractical fancy dress.

Yes, taking a break from smugly doing flawless backflips and getting beaten up by researchers with hockey sticks, is it any wonder that the precocious Atlas sometimes likes to go for a run to clear its head?

So natural are its movements as it runs around the grassy yard that you might assume it were a person in disguise, if it weren’t for the way it deals with an obstacle towards the end of the video. Instead of falling over the log in its path, Atlas stiltedly comes to a halt and very awkwardly hops over the log – which is pretty impressive, notwithstanding the fact that it would be far better for its pacing if it just ran around it instead.

On the subject of pacing, it’s not really clear how fast Atlas is going in the video, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s probably in the 10-12kmph range meaning that while it may be slower than me over short distances, Atlas presumably never tires. So when the day comes that it’s Atlas’ job to hunt me down for sport for a baying mob, I’d bet on the robot. Unless there are logs in the way, of course.

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