Robots have been taught how to fall safely by studying cat falls

    No one is safe from an unexpected fall. There is always a risk of tripping and flying to the floor unsuccessfully. This can happen not only with a person, but also with a robot .

    Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed an algorithm that ensures the robot crashes with the least damage. This is quite an important job, because the cost of robots sometimes amounts to tens of thousands of dollars, and because of one accident you can suffer serious losses. In addition, humanoid-type robots are increasingly working near humans, including older people and children. If it falls in a non-optimal way, then it can just hurt a person.

    The algorithm provides an optimal strategy in response to a wide variety of falls, including a fall from a weak poke or from a strong blow, when the robot has to perform a series of somersaults. In any case, the robot minimizes damage. The algorithm was tested in a real experiment with the humanoid robot BioloidGP (see video).

    “We believe robots can learn how to fall safely,” says Sehoon Ha, co-author of the paper. “Our work combines existing research on teaching robots to fall, providing a tool for automatically determining the total number of contacts, the order of contacts, the position and time of these contacts. All this affects the consequences of the fall and changes the response of the robot. "

    The scientific work is based on a previous study by Professor Karen Liu, where he studied the physics of the transformation of a cat's body during a fall .

    From that work, it was known that the key factor is the landing angle. Robots are equipped with on-board computers, but they are not initially adapted to solve the problem of safe landing, so they don’t know what to do when they fall. Thanks to the new algorithm, a program will appear in the computer to calculate the necessary sequence of actions, depending on the speed and direction of fall. There is enough computing power to carry out calculations on the fly.

    The scientific article “Multiple Contact Planning for Minimizing Damage of Humanoid Falls” ( pdf ) was presented in October at the international conference Intelligent Robots and Systems in Hamburg.

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