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Goodbye Hydraulics – Atlas the Robot has Gone Electric

The creative minds at Boston Dynamics continue to push the envelope with their robotics technology. This week marks another milestone for the industry after it released its fully electric Atlas upgrade. The new model showcases the +10 years of R&D since the original Atlas entered the market, including better performance and a sleek appearance. Here’s what you need to know.

A Cool Intro

News of the upgrade came via an announcement and accompanying video. In the short clip, the upgraded Atlas is lying face down on a concrete floor. You can see from the start of the demo that the new Atlas is much smaller and futuristic looking. The bot features clean lines, more even symmetry, and no exposed wires.

In complete silence, the bot’s legs bend at the knees, and the humanoid’s heels pull towards its back. Unlike traditional humanoids, the bots’ feet swivel to the ground on either side of the hips before the unit stands up and adjusts to recenter balance.

Source – Boston Dynamics Atlas Demo Video

Smaller and Sleeker

Suddenly, the robot’s body parts spin 180 degrees to face the camera. Here you see the robot’s circular face and screen. Behind this screen sits a multitude of sensors used to navigate unknown terrain in real-time. The bot’s head features a bright ring light that gives it a unique look.

Atlas then does a close-up of the camera before walking off-screen. Here you can see the small form factor and seamless design in motion. This walk-off shows that the upgraded bot has a more natural gate when compared to its predecessor.

Humanoid Robotics

Humanoid robots have been a dream of engineers and sci-fi writers for more than a century. From robot butlers cleaning to mechanical soldiers waging battles, the sky has been the limit in terms of humanoid robotic imagination. Notably, recent developments across the tech sector have made his dream closer to becoming a reality.

Atlas is one of a growing number of humanoid robots set to enter the workforce in the coming years. These devices mimic human structure to enable them to work side by side with today’s workforce. The goal is to create highly capable robots that can accomplish repetitive, precise, and dangerous tasks reliably. Here’s how this pioneering robotic upgrade could usher in a new age in humanoid robotics.

Atlas Hydraulic Retired but Not Forgotten

Atlas was the original Boston Dynamics robot that was retired this week. This beloved project has been in operation for 10+ years and has provided a plethora of data that helped to guide today’s latest robotic innovations. It was an adventurous venture that inspired countless others.

Notably, Atlas 1 featured hydraulic joints. This setup enabled it to move in a certain direction with confidence, support a lot of weight, and apply a lot of crushing power. However, it was very limited in other ways.

Source - Boston Dynamics - Atlas Original

Source – Boston Dynamics – Atlas Original

For example, the original bot was bulky and top-heavy. This uneven weight distribution caused the robot to waddle unnaturally when it walked. Notably, this weird walk didn’t affect Atlas’s ability to move and navigate. There are plenty of videos of this bot accomplishing acrobatic maneuvers with ease.

Atlas 1 has been a pioneering effort that inspired an entire industry to move forward. From lifting boxes to doing parkour, Atlas 1 was truly an inspirational project that will be missed.

Why Retire the Hydraulics in Favor of Electronics?

There are many factors that helped Boston Dynamics decide to retire the hydraulic version of its famed robot. For one, the original Atlas was a first-of-its-kind venture. That means it was used to create tests and collect data. The latest version of Atlas is the result of what the team learned over that decade of testing.

Hydraulics are Complex

Hydraulic systems require the use of fluids, pressure, and other mechanical systems that make them very complex compared to electric motors. The more components in a system, the more likely it is to fail. As such, a hydraulic-based system could fail due to factors that affect its fluid, electronics, or mechanical components. Comparingly, electric systems have fewer fault factors.

Maintenance and Repairs

It’s much more difficult to maintain hydraulic systems versus electric motors. There are fluid requirements and pressure settings that must be adhered to so as not to damage the device. Additionally, any error in fluid changing, leaks, or outside factors that affect the pressure or viscosity of the liquid could cause catastrophic failure.

Electric motors are more reliable than mechanical and hydraulic systems and more replaceable. Switching out a servo is much cheaper and faster than replacing hydraulic components. Additionally, it’s less expensive to send electronic parts and install them versus heavy and sensitive hydraulic equipment.

Size Matters

Another major reason the upgrade changed the game is that it significantly reduced the size and weight of the Atlas robot. The original unit needed heavier components filled with pressurized fluids, compressors, and a host of other system requirements.

In comparison, the new Atlass Electric is tiny compared to its predecessor. At first glance, you notice it doesn’t feature any compressors or cables and is void of any pressure tubing. As a smaller bot with the same capabilities, this upgrade represents a massive leap forward for robotic technology.

Full Range of Motion

Another limiting factor with hydraulic systems is their range of motion. Unlike an electric servo which can be built to feature a full 360 degrees of motion affordably, hydraulic systems are used to create a limited range of motion. This limited range of motion made it difficult for the original Atlas to conduct some tasks efficiently.

Efficient Movement

The Atlas Electric integrates 360-degree servo motors that provide a full range of motion. In this effort, the engineers wanted to keep the humanoid structure but improve its capabilities. This approach makes sense as it’s limiting to create a robot that can only move in the way humans do rather than maximize its potential.

The effects of this change in strategy can be seen within the first 30 seconds of the video demo. This generation of robots will maximize its capabilities by expanding its flexibility far beyond human limits. This strategy enables the bot to accomplish tasks in the most efficient manner available.

A Better Grip

One of the biggest challenges robots face is being able to sense if they are grabbing something hard or soft and lift it with the appropriate amount of pressure. For humans, this task may seem easy, but it requires billions of nerve endings, comprehension, and skill.

The new Atlas has more dexterity and precision than its hydraulic counterpart. It features a host of new grip variations and advanced sensors that provide the unit with the ability to expand its use case scenarios across multiple industries.

Easier to Control, Program, and Monitor

Electric motors have come a long way over the last decade, with today’s models providing more power and control than hydraulic or mechanical options. These units also integrate advanced sensors to improve monitoring and programming options.

The latest software upgrades are the unsung hero behind these developments. This software enables users to control multiple robots, track their actions in real-time, and capture this data for use at a later date.

AI Changes Everything

Boston Dynamics and other robotics engineers have turned toward AI to help solve many industry problems and streamline the UX. Large Language Models and machine learning AI can be used together to create text prompt systems that can monitor and collect valuable data that can be used to enhance system results.

Part of Larger Movement

According to Boston Dynamic engineers, this latest release is just a small portion of the firm’s goal to remain at the epicenter of the robotics revolution. The firm acknowledges the importance of focusing on robots directly. However, they are also equally interested in creating a supportive infrastructure, educational content, connectivity devices, business models, and simulation stations.

Together, these systems should help to make the robots of the future smarter and more sustainable. As the pioneering front runner in the robotics race, it’s interesting to see the firm mature and recognize the importance of creating supportive networks before product launch.

Robot Fleets

One of the biggest upgrades that Boston Dynamics made this year was the release of its Orbits robots software. This program makes it easy for spot robot dog owners to gather time-sensitive data about the bots surrounding them and use that information to create new AI models. This can be maximized when gathered from a  fleet of robots

Orbit Software

The Orbit software suite enables you to process real-time data from robots to create more powerful models. This software empowers users in multiple ways. For one, it allows you to control various Spot robot dogs from a single interface remotely. For fleet management purposes, this option is a huge plus.

Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics has been the market frontrunner in the humanoid robotics sector for +10 years. The firm was acquired by Hyundai recently which helped infuse more funding, research, and team members into the project. Together, the team could decide to bring the new Atlas to market following the completion of testing.

Rollout Experience

Boston Dynamics is one of only a few robotics firms that have successfully developed and commercialized systems. The firm said it hopes to leverage aspects of its Spot rollout campaign to streamline the process.

The four-legged Spot robot has +1500 successful deployments currently and is considered one of the most successful robotics projects to date. Like the Spot rollout plan, Boston Dynamics will first provide its product to a small, preselected customer base.

This measured rollout enables the firm to fix any issues as they arise and helps to avoid any bad press due to massive shortcomings. It also allows the firm to enhance its offerings using data collected during this phase of the rollout process. In The end, this strategy makes it easier to improve software, hardware, and services efficiently.


The humanoid robotics sector used to be a small arena with only one or two contenders. Nowadays, many different robotics firms have projects that are worth watching. Here are some interesting humanoid robotics options that are in direct competition with Atlas.

Tesla Optimus

One of the main competitors that Boston Dynamics must contend with is billionaire eccentric Elon Musk and his tech firm Tesla. Tesla is a pioneer in the EV market and has some advantages in terms of production capabilities when compared against competitors.

The Optimus robot is Tesla’s second-generation machine. This humanoid can be found doing daily tasks such as making coffee or folding shirts in online videos. The original version first launched in September 2022 and was called Bumblebee. The latest version integrates more AI and streamlines the platform’s appearance considerably.


The figure is a Microsoft and Nvidia-backend startup that has raised eyebrows across the sector. The project combines advanced AI with cutting-edge robotics to create a smarter, more capable solution. Notably, Figure has backing from highly reputable market participants including Chat GPT, Jeff Bezos, Microsoft, OpenAI, NVIDIA, Intel, and Ark Invest.

The integration of computer vision and AI systems has had the biggest impact on functionality according to Figure’s engineers. These advancements enabled the robot to improve its situational and environmental awareness resulting in a more effective and responsive robot.

The Evolution of Humanoid Robots Before Your Eyes

The latest release from Boston Dynamics marks a major milestone in robotics. The unit is faster, stronger, lighter, has more battery life, is more agile, and is smarter than its predecessor. All of these factors make the Atlas a game changer for the industry. For now, everyone  just got one step closer to getting a robot maid.

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