The 6-foot-2-inch-tall, 300-pound bipedal machine has been specially designed to navigate rough outdoor terrain. Its upper limbs can be used to lift, carry and manipulate the environment, and are designed to be utilized in crisis scenarios. Atlas’ articulated hands even give the robot the ability to use tools and objects designed for humans – such as doorknobs.
The video was presented by Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert at the MIT Fab 11 conference which took place earlier this month. In it, Atlas can be seen walking over an indoor rocky testing section before the action moves outdoors. At this point, the robot proceeds to stomp through the forest before tackling some heavy undergrowth, finishing off with an impressive, if inelegant, jog.
Although Atlas still needs handlers to hold his power tether, Raibert said the company is working on a version of the machine that doesn’t require an external power supply when operating outside. He added that the goal is to have Atlas eventually walking like a human. "We're making pretty good progress so it has mobility that's sort of within shooting range of yours," he said.
Atlas’ articulated head sensor comes equipped with stereo cameras and a laser range finder, much like the technology used in self-driving cars, which allows it to navigate its surroundings. And although the machine, which was built with funding from DARPA, may not yet boast Terminator-like mobility, this could be the first step on a path that leads to a truly human-like robot.