ATLAS II is part of a large scale project which has the final objective of creating a new flight controller with B.E.A.M characteristics. BEAM robotics (acronym for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics) is a style of robotics that primarily uses simple analogue circuits, such as comparators, instead of a microprocessor in order to produce an unusually simple design. While not as flexible as microprocessor based robotics, BEAM robotics can be robust and efficient in performing the task for which it was designed.
BEAM robots may use a set of the analog circuits, mimicking biological neurons, to facilitate the robot's response to its working environment. The basic BEAM principles focus on a stimulus-response based ability within a machine. The underlying mechanism was invented by Mark W. Tilden where the circuit (or a Nv net of Nv neurons) is used to simulate biological neuron behaviours.
During the time when ATLAS II was designed, it became obvious that a fliyng platform was needed for tests with electronic parts. From reasons of time management and budget consideration the decision was taken to build a QuadCopter capable of carying the hardware for 30-40 minutes.
With the second version of the QuadCopter, which can lift up to 3.6 kg, experiments with the sensors for ATLAS II and with the GPS module were made. Flight controller for Atlas II (build around a MEGA2560) and all sensors for atmosphferic probing are stored in a low deck payload container.