As humans age, we might get smarter, but we tend to slow down physically. Boston Dynamics' robots are moving in the opposite direction, learning new things at a terrifying rate.
The company's Atlas model, which just six months ago could barely jump over a log, is now hopping up stairs without skipping a beat. No longer will we be able to breathe a sigh of relief that we've outrun the post-apocalyptic robot army of our nightmares just by climbing to the second floor.
The Atlas is already capable of walking and running on uneven surfaces, righting itself after being knocked over, jumping, and executing backflips that would make an Olympic gymnast proud. Or make them soil themselves in terror; depending on the gymnast.
Boston Dynamics brags that Atlas can leap up stairs 40 cm in height without losing any speed. The robot uses the energy of its entire body – limbs and torso – to enact its movements and employs "computer vision" to orient itself in space.
If Atlas isn't enough to keep you up at night, take a look at Spot, the four-legged doglike horror that you can take home with you starting next year. Spot can open doors, climb stairs, jump hurdles, and even wash dishes.
And probably memorize the faces of everyone who's ever pushed them over with a pipe.