I have seen Boston Dynamics’ robot Atlas do some pretty impressive things, like a backflip, which must put quite large torques on the servomotors.

What servos are there that can generate torques like that, but are still small enough to fit in a humanoid robot? Which servos would be suitable? And what servos is it likely that Boston Dynamics use themselves in the Atlas robot?


The Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot doesn't actually use servo motors. It uses electrically-powered hydraulic actuation.

I saw a presentation by Boston Dynamics' Marc Raibert where (if I remember correctly) he said they used to use Moog actuators designed for the aerospace industry, but that they were now using a motor that they build in-house that is integrated into the body of the robots. (He said something similar in this interview with IEEE Spectrum).

  • $\begingroup$ It makes sense that it uses hydraulics, thanks a lot! However, in the backflip video, it can be seen that the "pelvis" of the robot vibrates (which you can also hear as a very low-pitch sound). Is this caused by some kind of step motor, or is it just the pump for the hydraulic system that produces that vibration? The robot also generates some quite high-pitch sounds (of which some are only audible in the slow-mo) which to me sounds like step motors. Or is this caused by something else? I have to admit my experience with servos is quite limited. $\endgroup$ Oct 4 '18 at 22:57

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