IHMC's Atlas Learning Crane Kick, Will Destroy Competition at DRC Finals

If Atlas does this right, no other robot will be able to defend against it

2 min read
IHMC's Atlas Learning Crane Kick, Will Destroy Competition at DRC Finals
Image: IHMC

Nobody is quite sure yet what robots are going to have to do in the DRC Finals next year. But if part of the disaster scenario involves robots getting their legs swept by evil ninja robots (totally possible), IHMC’s Atlas will be ready for that and more, at least judging by a new video IHMC released titled “Atlas Karate Kid.”

Granted, Atlas has not yet demonstrated the actual jumping part of the Crane Kick, but I’m sure that IHMC is hard at work on this right now.

Compared to the real thing:

According to this People Magazine article from 1984 that I just forced myself to read, Ralph Macchio weighed about 55 kilograms when he filmed Karate Kid. Atlas, meanwhile, weighs 150 kg, making this balancing act a bit more impressive. 

Jumping, for the record, is very difficult, especially for large humanoid robots. ASIMO can do it a little bit, and the HRP3L-JSK robot (which was the basis for Team SCHAFT’s DRC robot) could jump up quite high, although apparently not land, back in 2011 (it’s at the tail end of the vid).

We’re not actually expecting that Atlas will be jumping, but the balance that it’s demonstrating in this “Karate Kid” video has us feeling a lot more optimistic about the DRC Finals, since in the DRC Trials, ATLAS could literally be toppled by a gentle breeze.

IHMC is also doing some obstacle course practice in the dark:

Why? “For the fun and challenge of it,” they told us. We approve. Although, obstacle avoidance in the dark isn’t at all a bad skill to have for a disaster robot, even if it’s not going to be a part of the DRC itself (as far as we know). Another nice thing about Atlas is that from the look of things, you can just give it its own set of headlights.

Lastly, we hear that Atlases are now (or soon) on their way back to Boston Dynamics for some upgrades, which should include stronger and more versatile arms and (most excitingly) the ability to operate untethered.

[ Team IHMC ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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