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Domo arigato, Mr Atlas

Move over, AlphaDog: the "six-foot-two, 330-pound" humanoid Atlas is the new top robot in town.

We've seen BigDog, we've seen AlphaDog and we've seen the terrifying Cheetah.

Atlas shrugs. (Credit: Boston Dynamics)

Now, there's Atlas: 188cm tall, 149kg in weight and ready for action.

Atlas has uncanny balance (see the video below) and a long list of high-tech features, including:

  • On-board real-time control computer

  • Hydraulic pump and thermal management

  • Two arms, two legs, a torso and a head

  • 28 hydraulically actuated joints

  • Carnegie Robotics sensor head with LIDAR and stereo sensors

  • Two sets of hands, one provided by iRobot and one by Sandia National Labs.

This is one robot, however, that won't be heading straight for military applications. Instead, it comprises part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC).

Seven teams will take turns programming Atlas to perform a series of tasks designed to emulate a disaster response scenario.

The teams have already worked with a virtual representation of Atlas, but will now get to test drive the real thing. Now, according to Gill Pratt, program manager for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, "these seven teams will see if their simulation-honed algorithms can run a real machine in real environments".

The DRC trials will take place in December at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, and will be a spectator event open to the public.

It's not quite Pacific Rim, but we reckon it will make for a great event for robot fans.