Have you ever watched one of those “smartphone drop test” videos on YouTube? Robots that move around are essentially like these smartphones, too – impact caused by a fall can cause major damage to their components or motors.
That’s why developers are creating measures to ensure robots stay intact in case they suffer a nasty fall. Two researchers from Georgia Tech have come up with an algorithm that instantly sends information to robots, so they can correct themselves and brace for impact as soon as they lose their balance.
They indicate when you fall down, you try to dissipate energy. And every time you make contact with the ground, some of that energy is dissipated.
According to the researchers, the key to protecting the robot’s internal components is to make it go limp instead of tensing up to prepare for impact. They plan to expand the algorithm further, to ensure the robot avoids falling on a person.
BigDog and Spot
The algorithm created by the Georgia Tech researchers is very similar to the one built into BigDog and Spot, two robot dogs created by researchers from Google-owned Boston Dynamics.
Compared to the bipedal robot used by Georgia Tech though, Boston Dynamics’ quadruped robots have a huge advantage – having four legs makes it easier for them to adjust themselves and regain their balance instead of simply bracing for impact. They can do this on different types of surfaces too, including slippery ice.
Take a look at this video below and see how Spot can stay upright, even after a very strong push kick to its side: