Boston Dynamics says goodbye to famous Atlas robot platform

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If you have seen videos of a hydraulic humanoid robot doing parkour, carrying tools at a simulated construction site, or doing actually work, it was probably Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot platform. But now, the pioneering robotics company is bidding farewell to the platform as it moves on to bigger things.

“For almost a decade, Atlas has sparked our imagination, inspired the next generations of roboticists, and leapt over technical barriers in the field. Now it’s time for our hydraulic Atlas robot to kick back and relax. Take a look back at everything we’ve accomplished with the Atlas platform to date,” said the description of a video released on Tuesday compiling the progress of the platform over time.

Unlike its dog-like Spot robot and warehouse logistics robot Stretch, Atlas was never a product that the company intended to sell to the general public. The hydraulic robot was intended as a technology demonstration. It was initially introduced in 2013, and Boston Dynamics has been improving it constantly over the years.

One particularly impressive demonstration was when the company shared a video of the robot seemingly engaging in parkour, free running and jumping over obstacles. Then a little less than a year later, Boston Dynamics showed a video of Atlas “working” at a simulated construction site, where it seemed to have a nuanced understanding of its environment where it detected, gripped and moved objects of different sizes.

This year, the company showed a video where Atlas was shown to be picking up and placing automotive struts, an important component of vehicles’ suspensions and placing it. The video seemed to indicate that the robot is identifying the components, deciding how to lift them and even making a decision about where to place them.

Robots have played important roles in automotive manufacturing for a long time now but humans are still crucial in all factories they still have processes that are too unstructured and random. A purpose-built robot might struggle to do these things but a humanoid robot could potentially replace many humans in this process. Companies like Tesla and BMW are already experimenting with such solutions.

Festive offer

It is not immediately clear whether the company will stop using the Atlas platform or whether it plans to continue working on an improved platform that will be called something else.


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