In a vast warehouse-style room, two humanoid robots are taking on an obstacle course. Their barrel-shaped torsos, stuffed with processors and batteries, make it look as if they’ve been going to the gym a lot but have neglected leg day. They run and jump, traipsing on and off blocks and angled steps not unlike those in the qualifying round of the obstacle-​course show “American Ninja Warrior.” One runs along a beam and then, later, vaults over it. For the finale, they position themselves on opposite corners of a table and do two synchronized back flips. Feet firmly on the ground, they celebrate: One brushes off its shoulders, the other raises its arms in triumph. Neither, obviously, has broken a sweat.

This is a parkour showcase by the robotics company Boston Dynamics, demonstrating the capabilities of its Atlas model. Like a gymnastics routine, the sequence of moves here is entirely choreographed, programmed by a team of…

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