Can you do a handstand, leaping somersaults or jump and spin 360 degrees without twisting your ankles? The “Atlas” robot from Boston Dynamics can. Perhaps the better question is: Do you feel obsolete yet?
Five years ago it was a feat for Atlas to walk over uneven terrain, but in the last couple of years, Boston Dynamics has posted updates demonstrating the robot’s parkour-like capabilities. In the company’s latest video, Atlas is shown using its whole body to perform a series of coordinated maneuvers that mimic a gymnastic routine, which is more involved than the single backflip shown in 2017.
The company says it uses an optimization algorithm that “transforms high-level descriptions of each maneuver into dynamically-feasible reference motions.” Atlas has a model predictive controller that can track the motions and allows the robot to seamlessly transition from one action to another. It’s noted that the company is getting faster at developing routines and has a performance success rate of about 80%.
According to the latest figures listed on Boston Dynamics’ website , Atlas is comprised of the world’s most compact hydraulic systems including custom motors, valves and a hydraulic power unit that drive its 28 hydraulic joints. The robot stands 1.5 meters tall (4.9 feet), weighs 80kg (176lbs) and moves at 1.5 meters per second (3.35mph).
Along with demonstrating the latest capabilities of Atlas, Boston Dynamics has announced that its canine-like “Spot” robot is available for purchase as part of an early adopter program. Pricing isn’t listed publicly and IEEE Spectrum suggests that the machine might cost as much as a luxury car, but folks who are interested in buying Spot can contact sales and submit an order form .
Boston Dynamics isn’t necessarily selling to consumers and is reportedly aiming for buyers who have a “compelling use case” for the robot, which is designed for tasks such as carrying payloads up to 14kg (30lbs) and navigating terrain that is too rough for wheeled machines. Here’s a video of Spot in action:
Spot’s product page mentions a movement speed of 1.6 meters per second (3.57mph), 360-degree vision with stereo cameras to avoid obstacles, the ability to operate in environments between -20 and 45 degrees Celsius, and a swappable battery that allows for up to 90 minutes of run time. The robot comes with a software development kit that allows for customized deployments.