Boston Dynamics robots dance better than you in unsettling music video

Two Atlas robots and a Spot dance at a Boston Dynamics facility in this image from video released Dec. 29, 2020. Boston Dynamics/YouTube

Boston Dynamics robots can do a lot more than run these days: they can mash potato, they can do the twist and they can dance (hopefully not on our graves after the uprising).

The Massachusetts-based robotics company shot to the top of the YouTube charts this week with a spectacular — and slightly unsettling — new music video, which shows its highly mobile robots dancing to Do You Love Me by The Contours.

The video shows off the tech firm’s impressive achievements in artificial intelligence, including the ability to make a robot dance better than a drunk human at a wedding. The comparison isn’t even close.

“Our whole crew got together to celebrate the start of what we hope will be a happier year,” the Waltham, Mass.-based company wrote on YouTube.

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The nearly three-minute video starts with a bipedal Atlas robot jumping, shuffling and hopping around to the music. Its movements are smooth, precise and on beat — just like Patrick Swayze’s in Dirty Dancing.

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A second Atlas robot soon joins the fun, followed by a dog-like robot called Spot and another one on wheels, known as Handle.

The video is a departure from Boston Dynamics’ typical fare. The company is renowned for releasing videos of its robots moving like living creatures, including humans, in uncanny and disturbing ways.

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The firm has been at the cutting edge of robot movement for years, and its Spot dogs are have become popular tools for rescue and bomb-disposal operations. They’re also for sale online, if you’ve got a cool $US74,500 to spare.

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is designed to look and move much like a human. Atlas operators showcased its agility in another video posted last year, which showed the robot performing parkour moves in a warehouse.

Hyundai Motor Group recently bought a controlling interest in the company, all but ensuring that the dancing Terminators of the future will all have the letter “H” emblazoned on their foreheads.

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The video triggered a tide of jokes on Twitter, where many were slightly unsettled by the notion of losing a dance battle to a walking pile of scrap.

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“We are so dead,” one user tweeted.

Supercluster, a pro-space initiative, imagined how humans might deal with a robot uprising in the distant future.

“You have to fight back,” it tweeted. “It’s the dance off from West Side Story.”

“This is cool and all,” one user wrote. “But when they rise up and destroy us all, I won’t feel very good knowing there could be a Boston Dynamics robot Default Dancing over my grave.”


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