Airbags Could Protect Humanoid Robots From Catastrophic Falls

IEEE Spectrum

Walking robots will always turn into falling robots, and wearable airbags could help keep them safe

Humanoid robots are generally designed with the expectation that they won’t fall over. And most humanoid robots do, in fact, spend most of their time not falling over, although this is frequently because their creators don’t trust them enough to let them do anything fancy without being tethered to some sort of safety system. You can build your robot to be extra-durable and consequently make falling over less destructive than it would be otherwise, but then you end up over-engineering your hardware by designing it to be able to handle something that (ideally) won’t happen often, if ever.

The ideal emergency safety system for humanoid robots would be cheap, reliable, lightweight, easy to integrate, and able to deploy at very short notice during the small window of time between when a robot detects that it’s falling and when it hits the floor. And we have safety systems like that already: airbags.

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