From throwing a paper aeroplane to doing a Karate Kid-style high kick, the list of tasks Google’s Atlas robot can do is ever-growing.
Now the latest movement mastered by the machine involves delicately balancing itself on a 0.7 inch (2 cm) wide strip of plywood.
But the most remarkable part is the way the robot eventually loses its balance and steps off the plank, in an almost human-like display of balance and recovery.
The new video shows Atlas balancing for around 20 seconds, before wobbling and falling off the small beam.
The Atlas robot, created by Google-owned firm Boston Dynamics, is a formidable figure at 6ft 2in (1.8 metres) tall and weighing in at 330lbs (150 kg).
The robot boasts 28 hydraulically-operated joints and stereo vision, making it one of the most advanced robots ever created.
On its website, Boston Dynamics said: ‘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.
‘Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use. Atlas includes 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso.
‘An articulated sensor head includes stereo cameras and a laser range finder.’
Atlas is powered by an off-board, electric power supply through a flexible tether – although a new version promises to remove this.
The robot is controlled by a human, but it is not simply a matter of using a joystick to control the robot.
Speaking about a previous video, John Carff, an Atlas robot operator at Boston Dynamics, told IEEE Spectrum: ‘Most of the stuff in this video is controlled by me, but in a co-active way.
‘I tell the robot through the UI (user interface) that I want to grab a bottle off the table by clicking the bottle and making sure that the resulting hand is in the correct place.
‘Then, the robot tells me how it’s going to move its entire body to reach that location, through a preview in the UI.
‘If I’m okay with the plan the robot has come up with, I tell it to execute that motion.
‘In the future, I can see a lot of what was done in this video moving more to the autonomous side, but I always see there being a human in the loop.’
The team has previously recreated the ‘crane kick’ from the Karate Kid movie, teaching the robot to stand on one leg.
Researchers from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Interaction, who created the algorithm to allow Atlas to balance, say they are inspired by nature.
The team said: ‘Inspired by the speed of cheetahs, the endurance of horses, the maneuverability of monkeys, and the versatility of humans, IHMC researchers are on a quest to develop legged robots that are fast, efficient, and graceful, with the mobility required to access many of the same places that humans can.’