After we were all weirded out watching Boston Dynamic's galloping "WildCat" robot sprint around like a live animal, the day robots could run like proper humans seemed inevitable.
Well, now Japanese scientists have created both the cutest and scariest little torso-bot that can sprint and do backflips all by its acrobatic self.
According to the researchers at Japan's Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory, their "actively coordinated high-speed image-processing running experiment system'' (ACHIRES) allows for the bot to run up to a velocity of 4.2 km/h without falling over.
"ACHIRES is composed of high-speed vision and high-speed actuators to achieve instantaneous recognition and behavior," said the company in their description. Apparently, they use similar software for their rock paper scissors-playing robot.
The robot looks strangely like a human torso and legs when it runs—and even more so when the thing backflips. The legs seem to spread and twist like a human gymnast, just barely landing on its two feet (especially when you watch it slow motion). In other words, the imperfections seem all too real and human.
It's one more addition to the growing body of research around robots walking like animals. Except this animal is human, and the possibility of future androids running a sub-9 second 100 meter dash at the Olympics seems that much closer.