Watch your step: DARPA robots can now walk without wires

DARPA unveiled a new-and-improved ATLAS Tuesday and will use it in the DARPA Robot Challenge later this year.
DARPA Atlas robot challenge

One of the robots the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is building is ready to go unplugged.

That was the big reveal Tuesday as DARPA unveiled a new-and-improved ATLAS, the robot it has been working on for the DARPA Robotics Challenge later this year.


Constructed with Boston Dynamics, the robot is 75 percent new, with everything but the lower extremities different from ATLAS’ past prototypes. The robot, which previously could walk only with the help of a support cable, is now powered by a battery pack strapped to its back. That power supply — a 3.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack — will allow operators to power the robot sans cable for about an hour.

ATLAS’ heightened capabilities lie in its arm enhancements. The robot now has repositioned shoulders and arms to allow for increased workspace, increased strength and dexterity in its lower arms, and added movement in its wrists, allowing the unit to open doors without using its entire arm.

Seven teams will use ATLAS during the challenge, which will be held in June in Pomona, California. More than 20 teams from around the world will take part in the challenge, with the prize purse totaling $3.5 million, $2 million of which will go to the first place team.

For more information, visit the challenge’s website.

Greg Otto

Written by Greg Otto

Greg Otto is Editor-in-Chief of CyberScoop, overseeing all editorial content for the website. Greg has led cybersecurity coverage that has won various awards, including accolades from the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Greg worked for the Washington Business Journal, U.S. News & World Report and WTOP Radio. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Temple University.

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