May 22, 2024

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Boston Dynamics' new electric robot Atlas is all about nightmare fuel

Boston Dynamics' new electric robot Atlas is all about nightmare fuel

Boston Dynamics wanted the remake to show that Atlas could maintain a human form without restricting “how a bipedal robot moves.” The new version has been redesigned with swivel joints that the company claims are “uniquely capable of handling boring, dirty and dangerous tasks.”

“We designed the electric version of the Atlas to be stronger, more nimble and more flexible,” the company said in its press release. “Atlas may resemble a human form factor, but we are preparing the robot to move in the most efficient way possible to complete the task, rather than being limited by a human range of motion. Atlas will move in ways that exceed human capabilities.”

The teaser showcasing the new robot's capabilities is as disturbing as it is theatrical. the video It begins with Atlas lying corpse-like on the ground before quickly folding his legs back over his body and rising to a standing position in a manner befitting a sort of Cronenberg body horror film. His curved, light-up head adds some Pixar lamp-like charm, but the way Atlas swivels at the waist and walks toward the camera feels a little annoying.

The design itself is also more human-like. Similar to bipedal robots like Tesla's Optimus, the new Atlas now has longer limbs, a straighter back, and a distinctive “head” that can rotate as needed. There aren't any cables in sight, and its “face” has a built-in ring light. It's a marked improvement over its predecessor and now features a suite of new AI and machine learning tools from Boston Dynamics.

The company also said it is continuing to build on capabilities already achieved with the last generation Atlas hydraulic model, such as lifting and maneuvering objects, along with exploring “several new gripper variations” to prepare the robot for a range of different industry environments.

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Boston Dynamics said the new Atlas will be tested with a small group of customers “over the next few years,” starting with Hyundai. Other humanoid robots from competing providers such as Figure and Apptronik are similarly being tested on BMW and Mercedes production lines, respectively.