New York: Boston Dynamics began as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they developed the first robots that ran and maneuvered like animals. Now they are taking the next step, combining the principles of dynamic control and balance with sophisticated mechanical designs, cutting-edge electronics, and software for perception, navigation, and intelligence.
Atlas is the latest in a line of advanced humanoid robots they are developing. Atlas' control system coordinates motions of the arms, torso and legs to achieve whole-body mobile manipulation, greatly expanding its reach and workspace. Atlas' ability to balance while performing tasks allows it to work in a large volume while occupying only a small footprint.
The Atlas hardware takes advantage of 3D printing to save weight and space, resulting in a remarkable compact robot with high strength-to-weight ratio and a dramatically large workspace. Stereo vision, range sensing and other sensors give Atlas the ability to manipulate objects in its environment and to travel on rough terrain. Atlas keeps its balance when jostled or pushed and can get up if it tips over.
Military applications of this technology are endless and it will define how the world top armies will form its striking forces. It is not so far fetched that the nature of wars will be substantially changing in the coming decades with robotic soldiers operated remotely as its main force.