Farewell to Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robot: Hilarious Bloopers and Triumphs Reel

Atlas tried to do everything from dancing to parkour, and sometimes it even succeeded.

Joe Hindy
3 min read
Boston Dynamics Atlas robot

Videos featuring Atlas doing everything from dancing to leaping to karate became viral hits on YouTube.

Boston Dynamics/CNET

Boston Dynamics turned heads when it launched the Atlas way back in 2013. The humanoid robot could run, jump and dance, and the meme-worthy videos it produced have gobbled up tens of millions of views on YouTube over the past 11 years. Now, the Hyundai-owned robotics company is saying goodbye to Atlas upon its retirement with a send-off video showing off the humanoid robot one last time.

The blooper reel/highlight video shows Atlas in all of its glory as it performs backflips, runs obstacle courses and busts some dance moves. Boston Dynamics has never been one to shy away from showing its robots taking a few bumps as well. Around the 18-second mark, Atlas runs across a balance beam, stumbles, falls and grasps its robotic groin in simulated pain. Around the 1-minute mark, Atlas performs a front flip, lands low and hydraulic fluid shoots out of both kneecaps. As someone on the cusp of middle age, I've never identified with a robot more in my life. 

Watch this: Boston Dynamics Retires Its HD Atlas Robot

It ends with Atlas giving a few waves and a bow. The retirement of Atlas marks a turning point for Boston Dynamics as the robot captured the imagination of millions throughout its life. Whether it was a big dance number with Spot, Boston Dynamics' robot dog or watching it work a parkour course, every time Atlas did something, the Internet paid attention to it, even if it was terrible at karate

Atlas and Spot

Atlas started life as a contest project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA. The robot was based on the Boston Dynamics' Petman project, which was originally made to test the performance of protective clothing in hazardous environments. The Petman hydraulic robot had sensors all over its body that could detect if chemicals were leaking through the biohazard suits it wore during testing. 

In 2013, DARPA issued a robotics challenge, and Boston Dynamics helped. The company built several Atlas robots that were issued to the competitors so they didn't have to build robots from scratch. At one point, DARPA requested that Boston Dynamics improve Atlas' design and capabilities, which the company did in 2015. 

Watch this: Boston Dynamics Reveals New All-Electric Atlas Robot

After the contest, Atlas continued to star in Internet videos as Boston Dynamics tested and improved its capabilities. Over the years, the robot was improved to do more advanced parkour and gymnastics. Hyundai, which has its own robotics division, bought Boston Dynamics in 2021. 

Boston Dynamics was also well-known for its robotic dog, Spot, which could herd sheep like a real dog and it could be walked remotely. It even helped protect medical workers from COVID-19. It eventually went on sale and remains a part of Boston Dynamics' lineup. Spot has danced with BTS, a South Korean boy band, and it also helps Hyundai with safety operations in one of its plants in South Korea. 

In its later years, it seemed like Atlas was becoming primed for work use. Boston Dynamics had videos of the robot helping out on simulated construction sites and performing basic factory work. The factory work video was released two months ago

One Atlas may be retiring, but his successor is on the way. In tandem with the retirement news, Boston Dynamics announced a new all-electric robot. It'll still be called Atlas, and the company said that they're working with Hyundai to develop the new technology. In addition to other enhancements, the new humanoid robot will feature a broader range of motion, will be stronger than it was before, and have new gripper variations to lift more types of items. 

Boston Dynamics didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.