DARPA Unveils Atlas, A Humanoid Robot Designed For Rescue Missions [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 12, 2013 4:32 PM EDT

atlas robot
Atlas, a humanoid robot developed by DARPA and Boston Dynamics, was unveiled yesterday. The robot will be used in rescue operations. (Photo: DARPA)

Atlas, a disaster response robot created by Boston Dynamics and DARPA, was unveiled yesterday.

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The massive humanoid robot, which stands 6 feet and 2 inches and weighs 330 pounds, has two working, four-finger hands--including opposable thumbs--and 28 hydraulically actuated joints, giving it great range of motion. Atlas's head contains cameras and LIDAR, remote sensing laser technology that allows a robot to measure distance.

Atlas is designed to do dangerous rescue work which puts human lives in danger. The creators of Atlas specifically used the 2011 Fukushima power plant radiation leak in Japan as an example of a situation in which their robot would be instrumental.

"During the first 24 hours, if it would've been possible to vent the reactors (using robots), the explosions would not have occurred and the disaster would have been much less severe," said Gill Pratt, program manager for the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

Pratt also pointed to a more recent disaster in which technology like Atlas could save human lives.

"Two weeks ago 19 brave firefighters lost their lives," said Pratt. "A number of us who are in the robotics field see these events in the news, and the thing that touches us very deeply is a single kind of feeling which is, can't we do better? All of this technology that we work on, can't we apply that technology to do much better? I think the answer is yes."

While military and disaster response robots do currently work with rescue teams, those robots tend to be smaller than Atlas, and are generally only used for inspection, says Pratt. They also have treads on them--unlike Atlas, which has real feet--and so their mobility is much more limited.

Take a look at Atlas below. There's no need to be terrified of this human-like robot that can't be killed with bullets. It's here to help.

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