Robot Dance Videos Don’t Just Happen By Themselves

Not yet, anyway. This video took a lot of work:

The makers talk (in an IEEE Spectrum interview) about how they went about making it:

How Boston Dynamics Taught Its Robots to Dance
Aaron Saunders, Boston Dynamics’ VP of Engineering, tells us where Atlas got its moves from

…Strictly speaking, the stuff going on in the video isn’t groundbreaking, in the sense that we’re not seeing any of the robots demonstrate fundamentally new capabilities, but that shouldn’t take away from how impressive it is… What is unique about this video from Boston Dynamics is the artistic component, much of which came through a collaboration with choreographer Monica Thomas

We definitely learned not to underestimate how flexible and strong dancers are—when you take elite athletes and you try to do what they do but with a robot, it’s a hard problem. It’s humbling. Fundamentally, I don’t think that Atlas has the range of motion or power that these athletes do, although we continue developing our robots towards that, because we believe that in order to broadly deploy these kinds of robots commercially, and eventually in a home, we think they need to have this level of performance.

One thing that robots are really good at is doing something over and over again the exact same way. So once we dialed in what we wanted to do, the robots could just do it again and again as we played with different camera angles.

(Thanks to Philip Rubin for bringing this to our attention.)