Atlas robot pulls off delicate balancing act

Boston Dynamic's Atlas robot balances on a 2 cm-wide board courtesy of an algorithm from IHMC

Having previously shown off impressive capabilities dealing with uneven ground and being pushed around, the humanoid Atlas robot built by Boston Dynamics has now demonstrated the ability to balance unaided on the edge of a plywood board less than an inch thick.

Relying on a control algorithm developed by the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), the Atlas robot looks shaky in parts but manages to balance on the edge for about 22 seconds before falling off. IMHC admits this was a lucky run and that the robot isn't usually able to maintain its balance for that long.

IMHC also points out that the robot only uses onboard sensors and its shakiness is due to "poor state estimation", which is essentially the robot's ability to estimate its position, orientation and velocity so it knows where its various bits and pieces are and where they're going.

IMHC has previously put the 6.1-ft (1.9-m) tall Atlas robot to work vacuuming and doing some light housework around the lab after it finished competing in the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) finals. Maybe a turn at tightrope walking is in its future.

The video below shows the robot's balancing act.

Source: IMHC

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