Boston Dynamics' Atlas humanoid robot executes perfect parkour run in 'amazing and terrifying' video

A new video of a humanoid robot flawlessly pulling off an impressive, complicated parkour run is both amazing and terrifying internet users after debuting online this week.

Boston Dynamics' robot dog Spot was in the spotlight earlier this year after being deployed as a high-tech crime-fighting sidekick by New York police - now it's time for the company's robot humanoid to shine.

Atlas, which stands 1.52m tall and weighs in at 86kg, was first unveiled to the public in 2013 and has already demonstrated gymnastic and dancing moves, but that's now been surpassed by its parkouring abilities.

The latest Boston Dynamics video shows a pair of Atlas robots freerunning around and over a number of obstacles before executing perfectly synchronised back flips.

It's left many social media users in awe, posting comments like "this is both amazing and totally freaking me out" as Atlast shows "scary parkour skills".

Pushing the limits with parkour is a perfect way to experiment with new behaviours for Atlas, according to the company, because it needs the robot to use its whole body while maintaining balance and switching behaviours quickly.

"It's really about creating behaviours at the limits of the robot's capabilities and getting them all to work together in a flexible control system," said Scott Kuindersma, Atlas team lead.

"There are many important problems that parkour doesn't force you to address, but that's not the point. We're not trying to solve everything all at once.

"The work we're doing now is allowing us to create a solid foundation for tackling the next set of research problems."

But the level of perfection shown by the robots isn't a given.

The vault is only successful half of the time and even when Atlas gets over the barrier it can lose its balance and fall backwards.

"There are a lot of pretty exciting behaviours here, and some of them are not totally reliable yet," Ben Stephens, the Atlas controls lead said.

"Every behaviour here has a small chance of failure. It's almost 90 seconds of continuous jumping, jogging, turning, vaulting, and flipping, so those probabilities add up."

The good news for humans is Atlas has been designed as a research and development tool and not for commercial use like Spot - so that means we're unlikely to see a robot cop on the streets any time soon.

Not of this variety, anyway.