By Doug Aamoth
April 7, 2014

We’ve written about Boston Dynamics’ DARPA-funded Atlas robot again and again and again, but I got a chance to meet Atlas in person today and found out that everyone’s favorite terrifying humanoid is about to lose the system of cables and tubes that feeds it a steady diet of power, fluids and data.

Atlas has been handed over to CSAIL – the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory – at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Team MIT has been responsible for getting the robot in shape for the DARPA Robotics Challenge. It’s a series of competitions eventually culminating next year in a $2 million prize given to the winning team.

MIT has been rejiggering Atlas’s code to make it faster and more autonomous: In the above video, postdoctoral associate Scott Kuindersma gives a brief overview of Atlas’s various parts, and explains how the robot’s being coded so that it can make its own decisions in certain instances and operate on its own during a blackout period of up to 30 seconds.

The end of the video features a demo in which Atlas comes across an obstacle – in this case, a two-by-four – and removes it from its path. This demonstration of decision-making, along with figuring out how to get Atlas to move about untethered (the actual hardware modifications would be done by Boston Dynamics) are a couple of the tasks that the MIT team is working on for the next round of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which takes place in December.

Contact us at


Read More From TIME