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Hydraulic-Powered Atlas: Humanoid Marvel by Boston Dynamics

company logo for Boston Dynamics Boston Dynamics

Country: United States of America

Year: 2013


Atlas by Boston Dynamics: the hydraulic-powered wonder that transformed our expectations of humanoid robots with its highly dynamic moves and whole-body mobility.

Status: Discontinued, Prototype, Research

Operation: Autonomous

Robot Type / Domain: Research, Emergency & Disaster Response

Tasks: Research and Development, Whole-Body Mobility, Bimanual Manipulation

Whimsical Intro (by addoobot)

Know anyone who can dance, do backflips, and ace a parkour course? Tough to find, right? Well, Atlas could do it all—and impressively so, even as it neared retirement. Though we'll miss its incredible shows, its legacy lives on, setting the stage for the next era of humanoid robots.

More Videos

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Goodbye Atlas. We will miss you!
Play video background image - video 2
Atlas getting hands-on with new skills and capabilities
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Atlas showing its dance moves
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Parkour and backflip by Atlas!

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The Iconic Humanoid - Atlas by Boston Dynamics

One cannot discuss the world of humanoids without mentioning Atlas - the humanoid robot that is a true celebrity in this field. This iconic humanoid is now retired, but for over a decade, it has stolen the spotlight time and again with its impressive moves - from running and jumping to doing parkour and backflips. The flashy moves weren't the core purpose of Atlas, it was a platform for undertaking groundbreaking R&D and showcasing the pinnacle of humanoid agility and strength. But what makes Atlas so special? Let's discover what sets it apart.

What Makes Atlas Special

Although Atlas was used for research and development, it seemed as though it was ready for deployment in the real world as it showcased incredible abilities like no other humanoid. For example, it could skillfully lift, maneuver, and throw a heavy object while leaping through the air and maintaining a perfect balance. Though these skills may seem easy for humans, they are exceptionally difficult for a humanoid to master. Atlas is equipped with cutting-edge technology and innovative engineering, enabling it to perform the aforementioned tasks. 

Other Features and Benefits of Atlas

Every inch of Atlas was optimized to create a masterpiece, featuring one of the world's most compact hydraulic systems tucked within a framework of titanium and aluminum — materials chosen for their strength and lightness. This optimized design includes a great strength-to-weight ratio, incredible speed and dexterity, advanced hardware, and overall amazing performance. This optimization allowed Atlas to perform high jumps, amazing landings, and various dynamic actions so seamlessly. 

Additionally, Atlas had a great team with vast experience and expertise behind its development. This enabled groundbreaking research and development to be carried out and to push the boundaries of what's possible with humanoid robots. 

State-of-the-Art Control System - The Brain Behind it All

At the core of Atlas's impressive performance lies an advanced control system known as Model Predictive Control (MPC). Without getting too technical, think of MPC as a method for a robot to plan its future movements in advance. It first analyzes what it's currently doing and predicts the best possible future moves to efficiently accomplish its tasks. In doing so, it will consider how such actions will influence its state over a time period. Thus, it employs an efficient optimization technique to search through a feasible set of actions and select the best potential option. 

However, such an advanced control system comes with its own set of challenges. For example, some calculations need to be performed efficiently in real-time, and the model needs to be accurate enough to carry out the intended task without failure. 

Nonetheless, the effectiveness of the employed MPC in Atlas is evident by its ability to dynamically perform bimanual manipulation of objects, move with grace, balance itself, and adjust its movement quickly when experiencing external forces (e.g., being pushed by an object).

Brief History

Atlas was introduced to the public by Boston Dynamics in 2013, and since then it has continued to shock the world with its highly dynamic moves. The Atlas robot was made possible thanks to funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Atlas was designed to be used primarily for search and rescue as well as research and development. In April 2024, Boston Dynamics announced the discontinuation of the hydraulic-powered Atlas, and the focus was shifted toward the new all-electric Atlas, which is believed to be more powerful and have a greater range of movements. 

Technical Specifications

Max. Size:  1500H (mm)

Max. Size:  59.055H (in)

Max. Payload: 11 kg (per arm)

Max. Payload: 24.251 lbs (per arm)

Weight: 89 kg

Weight: 196.211 lbs

Max. Locomotion Speed: 2.5 m/s

Max. Locomotion Speed: 8.202 ft/s

Max. Slope: N/A

Battery Operated? Yes

Average Runtime: N/A

Max. Runtime: N/A

Battery Recharge Time: N/A

Locomotion Type: Legs/Walking

DOFs per Arm: 6

DOFs per Leg: 6

DOFs (total): 28

IP Rating: N/A

Operating Temperature: N/A

Open-source? N/A

Price: N/A

Actuators: Hydraulic

No more specs to show.

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Comment by addoobot - Our Perspective

The hydraulic-powered Atlas will truly be missed. Even as the new electric-powered Atlas continues its legacy, the original model's gift of providing hope, inspiration, and delightful entertainment to the community will never be forgotten. Its groundbreaking capabilities expanded the limits of what we believed possible in humanoid robotics. How has Atlas inspired you? Share your favorite memories or moments with us below and let's celebrate the legacy of this incredible humanoid together. 

addoorable score:
'addoorable'? maybe not always — but surely when it's showing off its dance moves! What do you like about Atlas? Share your thoughts below.

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