Boston Dynamics went viral this week with a video showing of the new ATLAS humanoid robot upgrades, and they are impressive.
In the video, the lighter and more agile ATLAS walks off of the assembly line, out of the building, and takes a brisk walk through a nature trail – though a human operator does provide some directions over the radio.
It’s also shown stocking shelves, autonomously locating and retrieving boxes, and the engineers even subjected it to a bit of bullying.
ATLAS is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It has sensors in its body and legs to balance, and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation and manipulate objects.
Standing 5' 9" (a whole head shorter than the previous Atlas) it weigh in at 180 pounds, just like me.
According to an IEEE Spectrum interview, Boston Dynamics did a lot of work to make ATLAS lighter and more compact, including using 3D printing to create the legs, and actually embedding the actuators and hydraulic lines into the structure.
They also developed much smaller and lighter custom servo-valves rather than the off-the-shelf aerospace versions they had used in the past.
The new ATLAS brings the company one step closer to creating a robot that is as mobile and intelligent as humans, and from the looks of it, that path will eventually exceed human capabilities.