US firm creates backflipping humanoid robot

It looks like a scene worthy of the Bladerunner films - a humanoid robot that can walk on two feet, leap over large blocks with ease and even twist through the air.

Atlas the robot can be seen carrying out a full 360 backflip in the air before rebalancing himself and raising his arms in triumph in a new video released by his creators.

It shows how robotics firms are quickly developing artificial intelligence which mimics human abilities and could be used to help or even replace them in many scenarios.

Boston Dynamics, the US company which created Atlas, first became known for its 'Big dog' robot created in collaboration with the US army.

But whilst four-legged devices are helpful, the logical next step is creating helper which can walk and move like humans.

That poses a major challenge - the ability to balance on two feet is extremely difficult to recreate in artificial intelligence. Many biped robots struggle to stay upright for any length of time.

The 1.5 metre high Atlas can coordinate its arms, torso and legs to mimic human motions, says its creators, and rebalance itself when jostled or tipped over.

It also boasts stereo vision and range sensing technology, allowing it to identify and move objects in its environment.

Its creators say they hope to "change your mind about what robots can do".

And their latest video shows how fast cutting-edge robotics are developing - with consumer technology sure to follow in time.