The new Boston Dynamics Atlas robot will fuel nightmares

Boston Dynamics recently announced the retirement of the hydraulic version of Atlas, its humanoid robot. The company followed up this announcement by unveiling an all-electric model of Atlas the next day. Initially designed as a search-and-rescue robot, the latest model is meant for real-world applications and is described as “the world’s most dynamic humanoid robot.” This electric version appears more agile than its predecessor.

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A video demonstrates Atlas lying prostrate and then using its feet to flip itself into an upright position. The robot shows remarkable balance and flexibility as it turns its head and torso 180 degrees. Its movements, although slightly unnerving, are undeniably impressive.

The new electric Atlas boasts a sleeker design compared to the previous version, which resembled a person wearing an exosuit. Instead of a human-like face, Atlas features a featureless head akin to a ring light.

Boston Dynamics believes that Hyundai’s next generation of automotive manufacturing technology offers an ideal testing ground for Atlas applications. Over the coming months and years, the company plans to showcase the robot’s capabilities with a small group of partners.

Boston Dynamics is working on new gripper systems to make Atlas suitable for various commercial purposes while enhancing its ability to lift and move heavy and irregular objects. The company asserts that the new Atlas will be stronger and more capable than its predecessor, aiming for commercialization of the humanoid robot.

“Atlas may resemble a human form factor, but we are equipping the robot to move in the most efficient way possible to complete a task, rather than being constrained by a human range of motion,” the company stated in a blog post. “Combining decades of practical experience with first principles thinking, we are confident in our ability to deliver a robot uniquely capable of tackling dull, dirty and dangerous tasks in real applications.”

Though other companies like Tesla and Menteebot are also developing humanoid robots, Boston Dynamics has the advantage of over a decade of experience in this form factor. This extensive experience may position the company well for introducing humanoid robots into workplaces and homes. Before that happens, we can expect to see more videos featuring electric Atlas showcasing its sleek dance moves.