Boston Dynamic’s humanoid Atlas robot has learnt to balance

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Balancing is a difficult skill and now one robot has mastered it.

 

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot – the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, which previously demonstrated its ability to walk across rough terrain and take all kinds of abuse from its creators has now mastered a new, and even more significant skill – balancing on one foot. And before you scoff that that’s not that hard a trick to perform it’s once of the hardest tricks for robots to crack and it opens up a host of new applications for robots, from rescue and military work through to waiting tables. Lofty indeed.

As humans we are in the envious position that every second our oversized brains are making hundreds of minuscule adjustments to our posture every second to help us remain up right – think about it. You’re never still even when you think you are, and for a robot to master this trick is, until today, unheard of. In the IMHC video below Atlas showcases its new skill, balancing on one foot on a narrow piece of plywood for almost a full thirty seconds, which is way better than a lot of humans.

 

Atlas balancing shows off its balancing smarts

 

Perhaps the most striking part of the video isn’t the incredibly long time it spends balancing, but the remarkably human like way it tries to regain its balance at the end. In a fraction of a second, the robot leans its weight to the side, rotates its torso, and shifts its foot placement. Not once, but twice.

 

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This is even more remarkable considering that it was only learning how to stand up a few months ago, and considering that even the world’s premier robot competition tends to have a lot of falling over. So now hide your sniggers – the robots just took another step up the evolutionary ladder, and no it’s unlikely that they’ll fall off of it and – least you forget the ATAC’s in Star Wars were pretty mean at balancing too, but this time let’s hope there are no cables lying around.

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