Algorithm Allows Robots to Fall Gracefully and Without Serious Damage

Georgia Tech researchers have identified a way to teach robots how to fall with grace and without serious damage, which is important as costly robots become more common in manufacturing alongside humans. The skill becomes especially important, too, as robots are sought for health care or domestic tasks. The research team developed a new algorithm that tells a robot how to react to a wide variety of falls - from a single step to recover from a gentle nudge, to a rolling motion that breaks a high-speed fall. As a result, robots can minimize the damage or injury they might cause to themselves or others while falling by learning the best sequence of movements to slow their momentum. The planning algorithm was validated in physics simulation and experimentally tested on a BioloidGP humanoid.