The line of Atlas robots coming out of Boston Dynamics over the past few years is always impressive, and increasingly human-like. The robots are designed to be humanoid in form, and the Next Generation Atlas release is the most convincing one yet. This new updated version of the Agile Anthropomorphic Robot is still completely wireless, but it’s more compact and slightly more humanoid, at a height of about 5 feet and 9 inches, with a weight of 180 pounds.
Compared to a predecessor that measured up to six feet tall and weighed 330 pounds, the Next Generation Atlas robot is closer to the height and build of an average-sized human male. In fact, males of just about that size are shown pushing the robot around to test its reaction and compensation maneuvers in the Boston Dynamics demonstration video.
In particular, pushing the robot over and knocking objects out of its reach tests the robots internal sensors. The Next Generation Atlas is electrically powered and features hydraulic actuation, but its body and leg sensors are what allows it to balance in combination with LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head. That’s how Atlas knows to avoid obstacles, and can stay upright as he interacts with them or move out of their way. The intricate sensor system also allows Atlas to right itself independently, if (and when) it does fall over.
Atlas is an incredibly intelligent robot, so it can also assess its surroundings for obstacles across the terrain. It can execute navigation sequences, and can interact with the objects and obstacles it comes across. And since it is specialized for decision-making while en route (or “mobile manipulation”, as Boston Dynamics would classify it), this Next Generation version of Atlas is designed to be high-functioning in both indoor and outdoor situations. With that kind of adaptability, the robot – once perfected – will be applicable in a wide variety of situations when the AI robot overlord revolution arrives.