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Atlas (robot)

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Atlas, standing
ManufacturerBoston Dynamics
Year of creation2013; 11 years ago (2013)
TypeHumanoid robot
PurposeSearch and rescue
Derived fromPETMAN

Atlas is a bipedal humanoid robot primarily developed by the American robotics company Boston Dynamics with funding and oversight from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The robot was initially designed for a variety of search and rescue tasks, and was unveiled to the public on July 11, 2013.[1] In April of 2024, the hydraulic Atlas (HD Atlas) was retired from service.[2] A new fully electric version was announced the following day.


The design and production of Atlas were overseen by DARPA, an agency of the United States Department of Defense, in cooperation with Boston Dynamics. One of the robot's hands was developed by Sandia National Laboratories, while the other was developed by iRobot.[3] In 2013, DARPA program manager Gill Pratt compared the prototype version of Atlas to a small child, saying that "a 1-year-old child can barely walk, a 1-year-old child falls down a lot ... this is where we are right now".[1]

Atlas is based on Boston Dynamics' earlier PETMAN humanoid robot, and is illuminated with blue LEDs.[1][4] Atlas is equipped with two vision systems – a laser rangefinder and stereo cameras, both controlled by an off-board computer – and has hands with fine motor skill capabilities.[4] Its limbs possess a total of 28 degrees of freedom.[5][4] Atlas can navigate rough terrain and climb independently using its arms and legs, although the 2013 prototype version was tethered to an outside power supply.[4]

The new fully electric Atlas, revealed in 2024 following the previous model's retirement, is stronger and possesses a wider range of movement in comparison to its predecessor. It can also move beyond the human range of motion. The new Atlas is based on the previous Atlas' progress, building on its history of previous innovation.[6] The new Atlas' design is more humanoid and upright, and also has a head illuminated by a ring light on its face. The new Atlas will also have different "gripper variations" to handle objects. [7]


Atlas, front view in 2013

In October 2013 Boston Dynamics uploaded a video showing Atlas could withstand being hit by projectiles and balance on one leg.[8]

In 2014, Atlas robots programmed by six different teams competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge to test the robot's ability to perform various tasks, including getting in and out of a vehicle and driving it, opening a door, and using a power tool. A variety of other robots also competed. The contest was inspired by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and carries a USD 2 million prize for the winning team.[1]

In the 2015 DARPA robotics finals Atlas from IHMC Robotics (named Running Man) came second behind the Korean team Kaist and their robot DRC-Hubo by a margin of six minutes, completing the entire course in a time of 50:26.[9]

On February 23, 2016, Boston Dynamics released video[10] of a new version Atlas robot on YouTube. The new version of Atlas is designed to operate both outdoors and inside buildings. It is specialized for mobile manipulation and is very adept at walking over a wide range of terrain, including snow, and can do back flips and cartwheels. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance, and it uses LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation, and manipulate objects, even when the objects are being moved. This version of Atlas is 150 cm (4 ft 11 in)[11] tall and weighs 80 kg (180 lb).[11]

On November 16, 2017, Boston Dynamics released an update video[12] of the Atlas robot to YouTube. In this video Atlas was shown jumping on boxes, turning 180 degrees while jumping and performing a backflip.

On May 10, 2018, Boston Dynamics released an update video[13] of the Atlas robot to YouTube. In this video, Atlas was shown running across the grass on uneven terrain as well as jumping over a log lying on the grass.

On October 12, 2018, Boston Dynamics released an update video of the Atlas robot to YouTube.[14] In this video, Atlas was shown running around while jumping over boxes.

On September 24, 2019, Boston Dynamics released another update video of the Atlas robot to YouTube.[15] In this video, Atlas was shown performing something akin to a floor routine in gymnastics. The robot demonstrates the ability to perform a handstand, somersaults, and rotations all in fluid succession. Boston Dynamics claims the robot was trained using "new techniques that streamline the development process."[15]

On December 29, 2020, Boston Dynamics released a music video featuring two Atlas robots, a Spot robot, and a Handle robot performing a dance routine to the song "Do You Love Me".[16]

On August 17, 2021, Boston Dynamics released a video of two Atlas robots running a parkour course with jumps, balance beams, and vaults.[17] In another video released the same day, it is mentioned that Atlas is 5 feet tall (1.5m) and weighs 190 pounds (85kg). Atlas is battery-powered and hydraulically actuated with 20 degrees of freedom. It has RGB cameras and depth sensors which provide input to its control system. All the computation required for control perception and estimation happen in three onboard computers.[18]

On April 16, 2024, Boston Dynamics announced the retirement of Atlas on their YouTube channel.[19] A new, fully electric version of Atlas was subsequently announced on April 17, 2024 through a YouTube video, featuring a comprehensive remodel and expanded range of motion.[20]


An Atlas robot connects a hose to a pipe in a Gazebo computer simulation.
Simulated image of Atlas robot climbing into a vehicle

Atlas is intended to aid emergency services in search and rescue operations, performing tasks such as shutting off valves, opening doors and operating powered equipment in environments where humans could not survive.[1] The Department of Defense stated in 2013 that it had no interest in using the robot for offensive or defensive warfare.[1]

In the 2015 DARPA competition of robotics, Atlas was able to complete all eight tasks as follows:

  1. Drive a utility vehicle at the site.
  2. Travel dismounted across rubble.
  3. Remove debris blocking an entryway.
  4. Open a door and enter a building.
  5. Climb an industrial ladder and traverse an industrial walkway.
  6. Use a tool to break through a concrete panel.
  7. Locate and close a valve near a leaking pipe.
  8. Connect a fire hose to a standpipe and turn on a valve.

The new fully electric Atlas, revealed in 2024 following the previous model's retirement, is designed to be a commercial solution for industry environments and the like, similar to Spot and Stretch.[6][7]


Atlas was unveiled to the public on July 11, 2013. The New York Times said that its debut was "a striking example of how computers are beginning to grow legs and move around in the physical world", describing the robot as "a giant – though shaky – step toward the long-anticipated age of humanoid robots."[1] Gary Bradski, a specialist in artificial intelligence, declared that "a new species, Robo sapiens, are emerging".

The new fully electric Atlas revealed in April 17, 2024 drew many fearful reactions, calling the new robot "unnerving", especially in reference to its reveal video.[7][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g John Markoff (July 11, 2013). "Modest Debut of Atlas May Foreshadow Age of 'Robo Sapiens'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Imran Rahman-Jones,Tom Singleton (April 17, 2024). "Bye, robot: Atlas HD retires after 11 years of jumps, flips and falls". BBC News. Retrieved April 19, 2024.
  3. ^ Emi Kolawole (July 12, 2013). "What if this ATLAS shrugged? — DARPA unveils new humanoid robot". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Tim Hornyak (July 11, 2013). "Be afraid: DARPA unveils Terminator-like Atlas robot". CNET. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  5. ^ "Atlas robot interactive 3D animation". May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "An Electric New Era for Atlas". Boston Dynamics. Retrieved May 9, 2024.
  7. ^ a b c Weatherbed, Jess (April 17, 2024). "Boston Dynamics' new Atlas robot is a swiveling, shape-shifting nightmare". The Verge. Retrieved May 9, 2024.
  8. ^ Video: Robot performs balancing act Archived October 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. 3 News NZ. 9 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Home | DRC Finals". www.theroboticschallenge.org. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  10. ^ BostonDynamics (February 23, 2016), Atlas, The Next Generation, retrieved June 3, 2016
  11. ^ a b "Atlas® | Boston Dynamics". www.bostondynamics.com. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  12. ^ BostonDynamics (November 16, 2017), What's new, Atlas?, retrieved November 19, 2017
  13. ^ BostonDynamics (May 10, 2018), Getting some air, Atlas?, retrieved May 18, 2018
  14. ^ Boston Dynamics (October 11, 2018). "Parkour Atlas". YouTube. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Boston Dynamics (September 24, 2019). "More Parkour Atlas". YouTube. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  16. ^ "Do You Love Me? - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  17. ^ Atlas | Partners in Parkour, retrieved August 17, 2021
  18. ^ Inside the lab: How does Atlas work?, retrieved August 17, 2021
  19. ^ "Farewell to HD Atlas". www.youtube.com. Retrieved April 16, 2024.
  20. ^ "All New Atlas". www.youtube.com. Retrieved April 17, 2024.
  21. ^ Stern, Jacob (May 1, 2024). "Every Tech Company Wants to Be Like Boston Dynamics". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 9, 2024.

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