It is hard to explain why, but it can be quite hilarious to see people falling over, so long as they don’t injure themselves. Television programmes like “You’ve Been Framed” here in the UK, where viewers are paid £250 for sending in their video clips, regularly feature shots of people looking very silly, dizzily falling over in front of the camera.
By making robots stand up on two legs, not only are we making them look more like humans, but we are also potentially giving them human weaknesses and disadvantages. It is much easier to fall over when you are two metres tall and standing on two legs, than it is when you are one metre tall and standing on four legs. But two legged robots look more like people think they should. Perhaps this is because we have seen so many two legged robots in films and television science fiction programmes?
For this year’s DARPA Robotics Challenge, support cables were removed so that the robots had to balance through all the rather tricky stages of the competition. For a team that his invested many hours, and large amounts of money, to see their precious robot fall over must be heart breaking, but for the audience it can be very funny as you will see by following the link to a BBC video at the bottom of this story.
But first of all I must congratulate Team KAIST from South Korea who won the $2 million top prize with their transforming robot. No doubt its advantage over the other robots in the competition was that it could also move around using wheels in its knees, improving the aforementioned balance problems. The YouTube video below was filmed in the lead up to the competition.
And now for the comedy!
Using footage courtesy of DARPA, the BBC have added the perfect soundtrack to a selection of robot falls and fails. It’s worth following this link for a minute of mayhem!