Video: Watch this little robot ski down a hill


Who said humans should have all the fun in the snow? 


So, this blog may be a little premature for our usual Futuristic Friday posts, however we couldn’t help ourselves. As our friends in Northern California, Colorado or New England hit the slopes, they may soon be joined by a few friendly, pint-sized robots. That’s because University of Manitoba Autonomous Agents Laboratory just taught a humanoid how to ski.

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Jennifer — who has demonstrated her athletic ability before having played both hockey and soccer — was equipped with a pair of custom wooden skis and two poles. While the open-source robot has already proven capable of climbing walls, running and conquering an obstacle course, her latest challenge was alpine and cross-country skiing as part of the lab’s project for the 2015 DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge.

The team took to snow to test out the humanoid’s skills in both cross-country and alpine skiing. According to the lab, the control of the alpine skiing was their primary focus, along with improving the cross-country gait. After all, different kinds of snow have different effects on cross-country skiing.

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“This is the latest extension of our work furthering our research into dynamic balancing and walking under realistic conditions. The changing nature of snowy ground, and the rapid control response required by alpine skiing, present significant challenges to gait design and dynamic balancing in Humanoid Robots, as does the challenge of operating this equipment in cold weather,” the team writes.

In addition, the team set out to have the robot dynamically switch from cross-country to alpine skiing when it detected a change in inclination. In doing so, the robot must deal with uneven surfaces and the gravity pulling it rapidly downhill, while also figuring out how to properly react to these forces. Not to mention, the snow can wreak havoc with Jennifer’s vision-based systems.

The 2015 DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge will be held in Seattle this May. Until then, be sure to watch the robot traverse the snowy terrain and down a little bunny slope below. Winter Olympics 2018, anyone?

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