Military Robotics

ATLAS and CHEETAH from Boston Dynamics

Posted 4 Mar 2011 at 03:10 UTC by IKE_RobotsPodcast Share This

Boston Dynamics is a relatively small company that develops some of the most advanced robots in the world. Its specialty is advanced dynamic control and animal like robots that can move easily over rough terrain. The videos of its projects like the quadruped ‘Big Dog’ made such an impression to the general public that there are even fun video spoofs with millions of views. Recently DARPA appointed Boston Dynamics with two new projects, ATLAS and CHEETAH under the maximum mobility and manipulation program. More information after the jump.

The first one (top photo) is surprisingly not called 'Big Cat' but CHEETAH and as it names suggests it is similar to the well-known animal. It will have four legs, a flexible spine, an articulated neck and head, or even a tail. It will be very fast, faster than any existing legged robot or human and additionally it will be very maneuverable and could stop and accelerate very rapidly.

The second one is ATLAS, a humanoid both in arrangement (with two legs, two arms and a torso) and most importantly, in behavior. It is oriented in agility, it will walk as a human, move sideways to avoid obstacles and even use its arms to assist its balance and movement over rough terrain. ATLAS will use the knowledge base from previous Boston Dynamic products like the biped PETMAN. In the photo below the Advanced PETMAN robot, seen equipped with arms for the first time.


Both robots follow the company’s specialized hardware and software that enables the robots to take advantage of their momentum in order to perform complex and fluent motions. Like nature’s paradigm these robots don’t move through a series of static states but they are constantly correcting an inherently unstable behavior through dynamic control and advanced software and hardware. ATLAS will walk with heel to toe motion long strides and dynamic weight transfer. Other humanoids like ASIMO can also perform humanlike walk but in a much more primitive level to what Boston Dynamics has set (and partially prove) as a goal. Both robots will have athlete-like speed, flexibility and strength.

These projects are conducted for research purposes but there could be many applications for them both military and civil. They may be quite ambitious but Boston Dynamics have already proved that they can materialize robots that a few years ago existed only science fiction (or even be inspired by them!).
(All images: Boston Dynamics)

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