Robot takes hilarious tumble and the internet missed it

Commentary: Just over a month ago, Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot showed off on stage before taking a spectacular fall. Let's honor it now.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


All was well, until it wasn't.

NeAr Gaming/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Until they take over and order us never to giggle again, I'm going to laugh at this robot .

I've laughed at robots before -- at a compilation of them falling over like drunks, for example.

But this video has just been sent to me by a reader and I cannot help myself. 

Meet Atlas , a Boston Dynamics robot who, to my eyes, is a bit of a showoff. 

Just over a month ago, he was onstage with the company's CEO Marc Raibert at the Congress of Future Scientists and Technologists. 

There he was, prancing around like a cross between a dressage horse at the Olympics and a headless Stormtrooper, decapitated after a duel over the righteousness of an algorithm.

Atlas is so clever that he can pick up a box. 

He's not clever enough to realize that when a robot dog called SpotMini -- yes, the smaller version of the one that was too loud for the Marines -- pulls the box away from him, he's being teased.

Like the lumbering rational oaf that he is, he tries to pick up the box again. 

Once he does, he thinks he's so very great. He prances around a little bit more, until he's ready to leave the stage, no doubt expecting a standing ovation.

Instead, he gets a tumbling sensation. 

He trips over a light projector and down he goes, just like Sonny Liston. Or your uncle Benjamin at that wedding when he fell into the river. 

Somehow, the internet didn't have a collective giggling when this happened. Even after the (sadly not filmed) Knightscope robot cop was found floating facedown in a fountain, more wasn't made of this Atlas failing to shrug off his own incompetence. 

Please forgive me if I found this both symbolic and amusing. Or even amusingly symbolic. 

We're fascinated by the idea that we can create these humanoids, as if it's proof of how clever we are. 

Yet here are these things taking pratfalls, just like the rest of us.

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