“Do you have a problem with that?” “But sensei…he’s made of metal!”
The DRC or DARPA Robotics Challenge isn’t quite a karate tournament, but it is a competition of robots fighting it out. The grand prize is to be the robot that can demonstrate its ability to effectively assist humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters. And two million dollars. One of the competitors — IHMC‘s ATLAS robot — is fixing to destroy the tournament with the devastating crane kick from The Karate Kid. Though it has to work on the actual kicking part.
While the ATLAS robot may not be able to kick or wax a car, being able to dynamically stabilize itself on a small surface while moving is an enormous feat of dexterity for a machine — especially one that weighs three times more than Ralph Macchio. And as IEEE notes, jumping is so far a tough ask of humanoid robots. Either the jumps are more like tiny hops or the robots can’t actually land.
This kind of grace could really help ATLAS and Team IHMC win the DRC competition, which is designed to be “extremely difficult” to weed out the robots that won’t be able to handle search and rescue missions. So far, it looks like they will be showing no mercy.