DARPA's Upgraded Atlas Robot Has Onboard Power and Wireless Communication
DARPA recently revealed upgrades to its Atlas robot, which was redesigned by Boston Dynamics. The upgraded Atlas is 75 percent new – only the lower legs and feet were carried over from the original design. Lighter materials allowed for inclusion of a battery and a new pump system with only a small increase in overall weight; the upgraded robot is 6-foot-2 and weighs 345 pounds. The most significant changes are to the robot's power supply and pump. Atlas will now carry an onboard 3.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, with the potential for one hour of 'mixed mission' operation that includes walking, standing, use of tools, and other movements. This will drive a new variable-pressure pump that allows for more efficient operation. Three onboard perception computers are used for perception and task planning, and a wireless router in the head enables untethered communication. The upgraded robot will be used by up to seven teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, which will take place June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, CA. Given their identical hardware, the Atlas teams will have to differentiate themselves through software, control interfaces, and competition strategy.