We like to dunk on Boston Dynamics here at The A.V. Club, whether it’s because their robots have decided to stop doing practical things and start dancing (like that’s going to be a good way to steal a job from a human) or because they’re trying to make their robots look cute after the NYPD tried to turn them into RoboCops, but we’ve gotta give them this: For once, they made a robot that actually seems kind of competent—and here we are, not even two weeks out from Judgment Day (and 24 years late).
As reported by The Verge, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot can now do parkour. It can climb and flip and run on a wall and do some dickish showboating when it lands a good jump, and that means it will be that much more efficient at jumping on human skulls when the Machine Wars start. We foolishly thought parkour would be the one thing that saves us, since parkour is/was something that only humans can do (unlike driving a car and walking, which robots are getting better and better at), but our brave human rebels will have a much harder time evading the Flesh Hunters of the future if they can’t climb on rooftops and do unnecessary flips or spins now.
The robots will need the natural energy that our bodies produce in order to power their batteries, so they’re not just going to slaughter us all, and these parkour robots will be useful when it comes to getting hard-to-reach humans who have climbed up to rooftops and are hiding in ferris wheels. Common sense suggests that it’s harder for robots to get to places that are high up, since their power cords are so short and the most common robot—the lowly, pathetic Roomba—doesn’t have legs at all, and that’s what makes this Atlas robot such a game changer.
How would you get away from this thing? Maybe kick out its legs, and then just start beating the shit out of it until you hit an important bit of wiring? Or just push it so hard that it falls down? Or… just walk kind of fast? You know, this thing doesn’t really seem like it would be too hard to kill, now that we think about it… but now that we’ve typed that, the computers will know that we think the Atlas is easy to kill, so we’re going to have to throw them off the trail with some clever human subterfuge. Oh no! We were wrong! (Wink.) This robot is so scary and good at parkour! It will surely kill us all! (Wink.) We’re very impressed by the Roomba and we don’t laugh at it behind its back! (Wink.)