Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Boston Dynamics reveals new fully electric Atlas robot

Boston Dynamics retired its Atlas robot after almost a decade of groundbreaking achievements. Just a day after it announced the retirement, the robotics company revealed its replacement – a new and improved version of Atlas, this time fully electric and designed for real-world applications.

According to the company, the next generation of the Atlas program will be more than just an impressive R&D project.

“A decade ago, we were one of the only companies putting real R&D effort into humanoid robots,” said Boston Dynamics in a statement. “Now, the landscape in the robotics industry is very different. Our customers have seen success with Spot and Stretch, and they are eager to tackle the next challenge with Atlas.”

This journey will start with Hyundai – in addition to investing in the company, the Hyundai team is building the next generation of automotive manufacturing capabilities, and it will serve as a perfect testing ground for new Atlas applications. Boston Dynamics’ Atlas applications will be put to the test – and this is just the beginning.

The company plans to partner with a select group of innovative customers to test and iterate Atlas applications over the next few years.

The new Atlas robot differs from its predecessor despite having the same name. While the old hydraulic version was impressive with its tricks and flips, the new all-electric Atlas stands out with its lack of exposed cables and a kinder aura. It’s also significantly stronger, featuring a broader range of motion than the previous model.

The robot can lift and maneuver a wide variety of heavy and irregular objects, building on the capabilities of older Atlas robots. The company is working on several new gripper variations to meet a diverse set of expected manipulation needs in customer environments.

To become a commercial success, robots need more than impressive hardware. Boston Dynamics understands this well and has recently launched the Orbit software, a centralized platform for managing entire robotic fleets, site maps, and digital data. The company has a strong team of machine learning experts shaping up their products to immediately bring impactful AI to the market.

With insights gained from over 1,500 deployments of its Spot robot, Boston Dynamics is well-positioned to ensure that the new Atlas robot will work effectively alongside companies and humans.

“In addition to our decades of expertise in simulation and model predictive control, we have equipped our robots with new AI and machine learning tools, like reinforcement learning and computer vision, to ensure they can operate and adapt efficiently to complex real-world situations,” the company added.

Even though the all-electric Atlas robot has a humanoid form, it can make movements that are impossible for humans. According to Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter, the robot has a set of custom, high-powered, and very flexible actuators at most joints, which enable motion packing “the power of an elite athlete into this tiny package.”

The Atlas will be capable of a set of motions that people aren’t. Playter is confident that it will have very practical uses.