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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.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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