As if the original version of Boston Dynamics' ATLAS robot wasn't unsettling enough, ahead of the upcoming DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June about 75 percent of the robot has been redesigned and rebuilt to make it stronger, faster, quieter, and less encumbered by cables thanks to a battery-filled backpack that will now keep it powered during the upcoming trials.
The new and improved ATLAS looks considerably sleeker than the original version thanks to upgraded components used throughout like a smaller and more efficient onboard hydraulic pump that will also help the robot move a little faster. ATLAS' more svelte physique will also make make it easier for the robot to complete certain challenges requiring it to squeeze into spaces designed for humans, which is important because the bot is specifically designed to take over those tasks in places where it's unsafe for people to work.
The new ATLAS was so completely re-engineered by Boston Dynamics that only the lower legs and feet were carried over from the original design. And while this new version was mostly certainly already being secretly tested while DARPA's last Robotics Challenge was being held, the upgrades still represent a tremendous leap forward in the humanoid's capabilities in just a small amount of time. And with Google helping fund its development, we'll certainly see ATLAS being improved further, and at an astonishing rate, in the coming years. [DARPA Robotics Challenge]