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
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