Meet the Pentagon's latest robotic abomination: ATLAS

No, it's not a souped-up version of Robby the Robot — it's ATLAS, DARPA's latest attempt at creating a humanoid robot. Unlike the super-realistic Petman, which was designed to test chemical protection clothing, this 330-pound monster is meant to assist in emergency situations. Riiiight...


We've seen a proto-version of ATLAS before, but this updated unit can perform a host of new tricks, like walking through rugged terrain and climb using its hands as feet. It has 28 hydraulically actuated degrees of freedom, and of course, two hands, arms, legs, feet, and a torso with some kind of fancy-ass monitor on it that probably goes "ping!" every once in a while.

Its head is equipped with stereo cameras and — ahem — a laser finder.

Illustration for article titled Meet the Pentagon's latest robotic abomination: ATLAS

Eventually, DARPA says the 6-foot robot will use its articulated and sensate hands to use tools designed for humans.

Hmmm, by "tools" I wonder if they mean "machine gun."


Anyway, the robot was developed as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which is meant to help develop machines that can cope with disasters and hazardous environments like nuclear power plant accidents.



My question about all of these fancy (most likely deadly) robots: what are the power sources like?

After all, how long can one of these things run for When not tethered up to a test lab outlet? Batteries are improving but, are they really that good yet Where this thing at 330 lbs can chase me down, I mean, lift bits of debris or climb around in a disaster for more than fifteen minutes? Yes, everything comes back to electricity supply and power with me, it's an occupational curiosity I suppose. ha!