Several DRC competitors used Boston Dynamics’ Atlas humanoid robot as a base, with teams adding their own software. However, the Google-owned (now Alphabet-owned) company says its software has come a long way since the DRC Finals.
Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, talked about the research and showed footage of the project during a talk on Aug. 3 at the 11th Fab Lab Conference and Symposium in Cambridge, Mass.
“Our focus is on balance and dynamics, working a little bit the way people and animals do, where you move quickly in order to keep yourself stabilized,” Raibert says. “We’re interested in getting this robot out into the world. Out in the world is just a totally different challenge than in the lab. You can’t predict what it’s gonna be like.”
He continues, “we’re making pretty good progress in making it so it has mobility that’s sort of within shooting range of yours. I’m not saying it can do everything you can do, but you can imagine that if we keep pushing, we’ll get there.”
You’ll notice in the video below as Atlas runs through the woods (starts at 41 seconds), the humanoid is attached to a power tether. Raibert says Boston Dynamics is currently working on a cordless version.
Atlas is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 330 pounds. The robot has 28 hydraulically actuated joints and stereo vision. It now features an onboard 3.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, with the potential for one hour of ‘mixed mission’ operation that includes walking, standing, use of tools, and other movements.