Robotics

Boston Dynamics' latest Atlas robot struts its stuff

Boston Dynamics' latest Atlas ...
The latest Atlas robot (second from left) has joined Boston Dynamics' robotic family
The latest Atlas robot (second from left) has joined Boston Dynamics' robotic family
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The latest Atlas robot negotiating a door
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The latest Atlas robot negotiating a door
The latest Atlas robot can keep its footing on snow
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The latest Atlas robot can keep its footing on snow
The latest Atlas robot stacking shelves
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The latest Atlas robot stacking shelves
The latest Atlas robot chasing a box being kept from it
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The latest Atlas robot chasing a box being kept from it
The latest Atlas robot can regain its feet after being pushed over
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The latest Atlas robot can regain its feet after being pushed over
The latest Atlas robot demonstrates the best way to lift a box – bend at the knees
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The latest Atlas robot demonstrates the best way to lift a box – bend at the knees
The latest Atlas robot (second from left) has joined Boston Dynamics' robotic family
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The latest Atlas robot (second from left) has joined Boston Dynamics' robotic family

Boston Dynamics has showcased its evolving robot family in a new video of the Atlas humanoid robot. At 5.75-ft (175-cm) tall, the latest Atlas is a head shorter than its elder sibling, but it has some new tricks up its sleeve. Not only can the tetherless robot operate under internal power, but it can work indoors and out and boasts greatly improved balance.

According to Boston Dynamics, the new Atlas is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Though shorter than the old Atlas, it has new sensors in its body and legs to help it balance, as well as LIDAR and stereo sensors to help it to avoid obstacles. The company isn't saying much more, but the video does give clues to a number of other improvements, such as a lower center of gravity and a leg architecture similar in function to that of the mountain goat-like Spot robot.

But one might ask what was wrong with the old Atlas? It was already the main robot used by competitors in last year's DARPA Robotics Challenge and wasn't doing too bad – it was cleaning its room and everything.

The answer is in the video below, which shows the new Atlas walking about indoors and out in rough, snowy country. It may have looked like it had one too many in places, but was able to catch its footing impressively after a stumble. It also demonstrated the ability to stack shelves while twisting its body in a remarkably lifelike manner, as well as the capacity to get around using digital labels as navigation markers.

The most dramatic sequences in the video show a human using a hockey stick to knock a box out of the robot's hands, then pushing the box away so the robot has to chase after it. Another shows someone pushing the robot hard in the back, so it falls down. This demonstrates three things: the ability of the robot to adapt to a changing situation, its advanced ability to regain its feet after falling down, and the Boston Dynamics team needs to seriously rethink robot-management relations.

The video below shows the new Atlas strutting its stuff.

Source: Boston Dynamics


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12 comments
AliciaRussell
Why don't they teach that robot to punch the snot outta that guy that keeps messing with it? Who wouldn't applaud that action? Despite what Asimov's rules may be ..." a robot may not injure a human being"... just a little "eye-for-an-eye" to that SOB with a (wink wink) accidental kick in his comeuppance.
CliffG
Alas there is one missing behavior: pummel the guy with the hockey stick. Otherwise, brilliant work.
Paul Anthony
I'd have been even more impressed had the robot broken it's fall after being pushed
Jeremy Plaiss
I have to admit I was startled by how much I "felt" for the machines as I saw them correct through the disturbances. Too much empathy for sure.
Bob Flint
They have definitely made great improvements, what is the power source? Sounds like a small quite generator strapped to it's back. How cost effective is it compared to cheap labor? It could realistically see abuse like this if destined to replace laborers today. Interesting how it gets up on it's own. Well done how much?
HensleyBeuronGarlington
LOL. This is why robots will hate us eventually. J/K That is friggin impressive.
MEdwardLovett
I think I found my new friend! :) It walks like I do coming home from the pub. Seriously, so impressed to see it not only walk through uneven terrain, but wet, possibly slick surfaces too. Watching it auto-correct itself on the little bump or two it walked over blew me away. Again though, it's all about battery life; until there is some miraculous breakthrough in autonomous power supplies, this thing has to be sucking up the juice.
toolman65
I for one, welcome our robotic overlords
JagtygerII
And for its next iteration the Cyberdyne Terminator series coming to a Military force near you, complete with its own built in fire power and adaptive ability to use off the shelf weaponry. Ooh, hah hah hah (evil laughter)
MattII
@Paul Anthony: That would have been impressive, but I know many people who wouldn't have been able to do that.