Co-operative Testing Initiative
ATLAS is a robotic entity built out of the shell of an Emotion Sphere, supposedly for the sole purpose of testing in the Aperture Science Robot Enrichment Program. At the beginning of the tests, ATLAS, referred to as "Blue", is given an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device
that shoots blue and purple portals. Like his mechanical life-partner P-Body
, ATLAS is assembled at the beginning of every Testing Chamber and dis-assembled at the end. ATLAS and P-Body initially seem to be completing standard Portal "tests" simply to amuse GLaDOS
, who continually berates them in a passive-aggressive manner, growing upset as they display increasingly Human
behaviour (such as high-fiving after a job well done, dancing together in front of a camera, playing rock-paper-scissors, and hugging) and trying unsuccessfully to turn the robots against each other. As they continue through the facilities though, it soon becomes apparent that GLaDOS is using the robots to further her own agenda. On several occasions, she sends them into areas outside of the testing facility in order to allow her to access important information stored on DVDs. The final such excursion restores full power to GLaDOS, and allows her complete access to Aperture's systems, which lets her locate a hidden Vault containing dozens of humans frozen in some kind of stasis pods. Once P-Body and ATLAS gain entry to the Vault, GLaDOS shows genuine affection towards the robots for the first time, thanking them for 'saving science', and telling them that there is much more work for them to do now that they have located human test subjects.
The Peer Review DLC package for Portal 2
adds an additional series of testing chambers to the co-operative testing initiative, in which GLaDOS claims it has been 100,000 years since their last activation, and that Humans have "solved science", with testing chambers only being used as a form of artistic expression. Eventually, however, she admits that it has only been a week since they found the Vault, and that shortly after they were deactivated, an unknown hacker utilizing a prototype GLaDOS chassis deep in the bowels of Aperture started trying to take control of the facility, with the net effect that chaos has been wrought upon Aperture's various systems, which are in danger of outright failure. GLaDOS attempted to train her new Human test subjects into being perfect killing machines, but none of them survived her cruel test chambers, so she is now forced to reactivate ATLAS and P-Body in order to oust the hacker and save Aperture. She sends them through some of the same test chambers, but fails to alter their silly nature into hardened murderers, and sends them in to confront the hacker anyway. ATLAS and P-Body discover that the hacker is actually the bird from Portal 2
's singleplayer campaign, causing GLaDOS great fear since her experience of being partially eaten while trapped in the potato, and which has built a nest into the prototype chassis. The "hacking" that has been assaulting the facility has actually been the bird randomly pecking at a still-active keyboard attached to the chassis, causing chaos throughout Aperture. Despite GLaDOS being sure the robots were no match for the bird, ATLAS and P-Body manage to shoo it out a hatch and seal it outside the facility, whereupon GLaDOS has them retrieve the nest and the bird's eggs so she can raise them to be her own personal killing machines.
- Despite his name always being written in all-caps, it is never mentioned or explained what "ATLAS" stands for.
- ATLAS Is referred to as "Ballbot" in the game files.
- Fitting with his testing designation, ATLAS has a blue optic sensor (eye), and several panels on his body are blue, along with an identification stripe on his portal gun.
- GLaDOS mentions that ATLAS is "the most advanced model of robot that Aperture Science has ever discontinued", though like everything else she says, this is probably either exaggerated or openly made up.
- The name ATLAS is a reference to the Titan of the same name, who is often represented as supporting Earth on his back, much as ATLAS' enormous shoulders seem equipped to.