Robot Gets Knocked Down (but it gets up again)

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Researchers in Japan have invented a nimble humanoid robot that can regain its own footing after taking a tumble. Its secret lies in letting go of control: Rather than follow a strict set of predetermined rules, it makes on-the-fly adjustments based on body trajectory and momentum.

This approach may sound familiar … it applies the same type of biomimicry we’ve seen in the work of Torsten Reil (03, TEDGlobal), whose NaturalMotion software allows computer-based characters to respond ‘naturally’ to unpredicted obstacles in a digital environment, and Robert Full (O3, 05), who applies his knowledge of animal feet, legs & motion to make scrambling, climbing, rolling many-legged robots well-suited to exploring new environments.