Ian The Robot Masters Karate Kid’s Crane Kick


A robotics firm owned by Google has programmed a human-sized robot to carry out the crane kick from The Karate Kid.

The idea appears to be to show that the robot has the type of balance and depth perception that even real humans might find a challenge.

It’s the work of Boston Dynamics, the firm behind several high-profile robots based on human and other mammal, including one that ran faster than Usain Bolt. Google bought the firm late last year.

The idea of the human-like robots is that they can perform tasks where the shape and balance of a human is useful, but which are dangerous for real people to carry out, such as firefighting. Such tasks can require skills such as climbing, reaching and carrying while moving through uneven terrain and tight spaces.

Rather disappointingly, the robot being displayed here is called Ian. (No offence meant to readers of that name, but it’s not exactly what you’d associate with a badass cyberbeast.)

Ian is 6’2″ and weighs 330 pounds (don’t feel bad Ian, everyone known metal weighs more than fat). It/he has 28 movable joints and is able to move and balance thanks to a combination of a laser rangefinder and two cameras, in effect replicating human vision and processing.

As well as recreating movie scenes, Ian can walk upright while using his arms to carry and move objects. While it hasn’t been filmed yet, its reported Ian can even drive a car.

The downside at the moment is that Ian is powered by a separate supply, connected by a flexible tether cable. The plan is to eventually upgrade him to an on-board battery.

Warning: the video below contains a somewhat horrendous screeching sound, so you may want to turn your speakers down or even off before playing it.

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