DARPA and Boston Dynamics, of BigDog, Petman, and Cheetah fame, have unveiled their most advanced humanoid robot yet: Atlas. At 6’2″ (188cm) and 330lbs (150kg), Atlas is incredibly imposing; with 28 hydraulically actuated joints, LIDAR and stereo vision, a beefy on-board computer, and some of the most advanced robotic limbs ever conceived, Atlas is remarkably human-like in its behavior. While Atlas is initially conceived as a disaster response robot, such as cleaning up and looking for survivors after a Fukushima-like disaster, it’s easy to imagine Atlas being the basis of a robotic army, supported by BigDog mules.
As you can see in the photo above and the video below, Atlas is incredibly technologically advanced. With 28 hydraulic joints, Atlas can replicate almost every degree of human motion — or, in the case of the robot hands provided by iRobot and Sandia National Labs, surpass them. Vision is provided by a Carnegie Robotics LIDAR and stereo camera system;LIDAR, or light-based radar, is the same detection and ranging system used by autonomous vehicles, such as Google’s self-driving car. LIDAR is expensive, but incredibly accurate. The tech specs say that Atlas has its own on-board hydraulic pump, but you can see in the video that it’s still tethered to some kind of off-board power/hydraulic supply. Like BigDog, whichstarted off tethered, Atlas will eventually be self-powered and free to roam wherever it wishes.