This robot invention can do backflips better than a gymnast

This robot invention can do backflips better than a gymnast

Robot challenges what engineers previously thought impossible with movement

by Kurt Knutsson

The Unitree H1 robot is flipping the script on what humanoid robots can do—literally. This bipedal bot has just snagged the spotlight by pulling off a standing backflip without any hydraulics. That’s right, no bulky, leak-prone hydraulics here, just pure electric dexterity.

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The backflip robot’s unique design

You might be thinking, “Haven’t we seen robots backflip before?” Sure, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas has been somersaulting its way into our social media feeds for a while now, but it’s always had the help of hydraulics.

Credit: Unitree

The H1, on the other hand, is all about those sleek M107 electric joint motors, each packing a punch with 360 Nm (that’s 265.5 lb. ft) of peak torque. And guess what? These motors aren’t just for show; they’re the same ones powering Unitree’s four-legged friend, the B2 quadruped.

Credit: Unitree

 

MORE: THIS HUMANOID ROBOT IS NOW CAPABLE OF FULL CONVERSATIONS 

 

The backflip robot’s specs

The H1 is 71 inches tall, weighs 104 pounds, and can carry up to 66 pounds of payload. While it doesn’t have human-like hands just yet, that’s on the to-do list. The H1 has already broken records for speed, sprinting at 7.4 mph.

Credit: Unitree

 

MORE: AI ROBOT THAT CAN TRIM, EDGE, AND BLOW YOUR LAWN FOR YOU  

 

The backflip robot’s innovative design

Now, let’s talk design. The H1’s legs are a marvel of engineering, with three degrees of freedom at the hip, one at the knee, and another at the ankle. Plus, all the wiring is tucked away inside, which means no more tripping over cables—just smooth, clean lines. Its head is equipped with 3D LiDAR and an Intel RealSense depth camera, which gives it a panoramic view of its surroundings. Powering all this is a hefty 864-Wh battery that’s quick to swap out.

Credit: Unitree

 

MORE: FORGET HANDS, TOYOTA’S HUG-READY ROBOT PICS UP WITH ITS ENTIRE BODY  

 

Training the backflip robot for perfection

So, how did the H1 learn this acrobatic feat? Through reinforcement learning simulation, it practiced its heart out until it almost nailed the perfect backflip, save for a tiny corrective hop at the end. It’s like watching an Olympic gymnast stick the landing—almost.

Credit: Unitree

 

More than just flips

H1 incorporates AI technology that enables it to learn and perform a variety of tasks, including back flips. The AI allows the H1 to adapt to different scenarios, whether in industry or service sectors.

Sure, doing backflips might not seem like a must-have skill for a robot, but it’s a flashy way to show off the H1’s agility. And it’s not just a one-trick pony; this robot has already mastered speed-walking, stair climbing, and even dancing. Talk about a robot with rhythm.

Credit: Unitree

 

The price of innovation

Now, for the nitty-gritty. The H1 is still fresh on the scene, but it’s already a price tag of around $90k.

 

Kurt’s key takeaways

The Unitree H1 is more than just a robot; it’s a glimpse into a future where humanoids could be flipping, dancing, and walking their way into our lives. And with its impressive specs and acrobatic prowess, the H1 is one robot you’ll want to keep your eyes on.

As robots like the Unitree H1 start doing things we never thought possible, there’s a really good chance they will take over jobs now done by humans. What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments below.

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1 comment

Dan M. May 7, 2024 - 9:33 am

We’re going to have to face the fact that robots and AI are going to take over so many human jobs that we’re going to have to implement something like a universal basic income very soon.

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