01-06 Boston Dynamics Atlas robots

[Image above] How else to ring in the New Year except with a robot dance party? Credit: Boston Dynamics, YouTube

Times Square in New York City is known globally as one of the go-to destinations for New Year’s Eve festivities. Hundreds of thousands of people flock there each year to watch the ball drop, a tradition that first debuted in 1907.

This year, though, I found it unsettling to see the streets almost bare. The public was prohibited from gathering in the square due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so only a few hundred people who received special invitations attended.

I usually avoid big crowds, but I missed watching the massive dance parties that typically take place during the live streams of Times Square. And I’m sure I’m not the only one, based on the latest video Boston Dynamics released to celebrate the start of 2021.

Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics design company headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. The company specializes in development of dynamic, highly mobile robots, as showcased on their YouTube channel since 2009.

The robots typically are geared toward use in industrial or hazardous environments. However, as we showed in a CTT post last August, sometimes these robots find uses in very different areas, including healthcare and entertainment.

That latter area in particular was on full display in the most recent video posted by Boston Dynamics. Robots from the Handle, Spot, and Atlas series showed off their dance moves, which also served to demonstrate the enhanced stability and movement capabilities of these machines.

(Want to learn how Boston Dynamics got the robots to dance? Check out this IEEE Spectrum interview with Aaron Saunders, vice president of engineering at Boston Dynamics.)

Credit: Boston Dynamics, YouTube

The video is impressive on its own, but it especially stands out when compared to videos of earlier versions of these robots. The compilation video by Australian Online News below offers a good look at the robots’ evolution since 2009.

Credit: Australian Online News, YouTube

Update 01/08/2021 – Link added to IEEE Spectrum interview with Aaron Saunders