'Karate Kid' robot developed by Google

'Karate Kid' robot developed by Google

Built by Google-owned Boston Dynamics, the Atlas robot has been programmed to balance on one foot and perform the first stage of the crane kick made famous by Ralph Macchio in the 1984 film Karate Kid.

An alarming video shows the 6ft 2in robot balancing on one leg on a stack of cinder blocks, while slowly raising its arms up and down.

Tipping the scales at a stocky 330lbs (150kg), the robot was built by Boston but is controlled using an algorithm developed by the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC).

The Atlas robot, built by Google-owned Boston Dynamics balances on one leg, Karate Kid style (Boston Dynamics, IHMC, YouTube)
The Atlas robot, built by Google-owned Boston Dynamics balances on one leg, Karate Kid style (Boston Dynamics, IHMC, YouTube)



While the balance demonstrated by the robot is extremely impressive, not to mention terrifying, it can't yet perform the 'jumping' portion of the kick. Jumping and landing is a notoriously hard trick for large robots to master.

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It's not clear whether the Atlas robot can perform a Karate Kid-style leg sweep.

According to manufacturer Boston Dynamics:

"Atlas is a high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain. Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces."

The human-like robot sports 28 hydraulic joints along with stereo cameras and a laser range finder.

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Atlas is powered by a separate electric power supply, hooked up using a flexible lead. However, the robot is due to be updated to operate untethered and will also be adapted to include stronger and more versatile arms.

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Funding for most of Boston's advanced robotic products comes from military sources including the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) - the US military's 'mad scientist' wing.

Boston's parent company Google has just signed a lease on a Nasa base, where it intends to renovate three massive hangars for projects involving aviation, space exploration and robotics.