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Robotics Science Technology

Balancing Robot Can Take a Kicking 207

BotKicker writes "A Japanese team has created the first full-size humanoid robot that won't fall over if you push it. A video shows it staggering and regaining balance after blows from a researcher. Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies, they reckon. 'The robot's balancing ability depends on its joints. For one thing they are never kept rigid, even when standing still, meaning they yield slightly when the robot is pushed. Force sensors within each joint also work out the position and velocity of the robot's centre mass as it moves around. Control software rapidly figures out what forces the robot's feet need to exert on the ground to bring it back into balance, and tells the joints how to act.'"
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Balancing Robot Can Take a Kicking

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  • ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:31PM (#21602545)
    That's handy but come on, if I gave it a full force running, mid air, knee extension kick that you use on a person's sternum in martial arts to knock them clear off their feet, I doubt it could stay standing. Of course they didn't make it to combat standard but...if they made it tase me before I got to it when it detected I was about to kick it, now that would solve the problem lol
  • Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cillian ( 1003268 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:34PM (#21602613) Homepage
    This is obviously a massive step forward - the major stereotypical problem with robots in the past has been their instability and slow shuffling. This opens the door to having them perform tasks like bend over and pick up weighty objects, which would have probably been impossible without this balancing mechanism.
  • Easier (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snl2587 ( 1177409 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:34PM (#21602627)
    This would be a lot easier if they just made the robots in the shape of a bop bag.
  • Fudd's Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weav ( 158099 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:37PM (#21602665)
    I suppose this is the first exception to Fudd's Law: If you push something hard enough, it will fall over...

    On the other hand, it may just raise the energy barrier, so to speak.
  • Re:ridiculous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gihan_ripper ( 785510 ) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:37PM (#21602669) Homepage
    Well who knows, maybe it could withstand such a barrage, but only by responding with equal and opposite force. Maybe this is why the researchers didn't perform a "full force running, mid air, knee extension kick" on the robot ;)
  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:54PM (#21602993) Homepage Journal
    > perform tasks like bend over and pick up weighty objects

    A robot should not bend over and pick up weighty objects. It should squat and pick it up while maintaining it s rear electrical conduit in a straight configuration to prevent getting a herniated servo in the back.
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tom90deg ( 1190691 ) <> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:04PM (#21603177) Homepage
    There's a few reasons why people want to design a humanoid robot. First, there's no need for translation. For Boxy Robot, how's it going to get up stairs? The walker one can do that no problem. Secondly, a robot on wheels isn't as able to deal with changes in terrain as a walker would be. Adaptability is much higher when you have legs than when you have wheels.
  • by CodeShark ( 17400 ) <{ellsworthpc} {at} {}> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:23PM (#21603549) Homepage
    I wonder if people get the significance of this, because robotics at it's core isn't always about autonomous arthromorphic creations. Sometime's it's about assistance.

    I recently met an MS sufferer that has been completely confined to a wheelchair for years because the nerves in her legs don't fire properly, even though she has sensation and can tell when she is not balanced.

    So take this so called "robot" technology, and make it something that becomes sort of like a small exo-skeletal muscle system. Call it robotically controlled balance assistance, or whatever you want.

    End result, she's out of the chair. In the real world. Good, no?

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin