Unitree H1 is first humanoid to nail a backflip without hydraulics

After setting a new world speed record for humanoid robots earlier this month, China’s Unitree is now claiming another. Its latest H1 bipedal takes the title for first to perform a standing backflip without the use of hydraulics.

Yes, humanoids like Boston Dynamics’ Atlas have been nailing backflips for a few years now but they make use of heavy, potentially leaky hydraulics to launch into the air, somersault backwards and then land on both feet.

Impressively, Unitree’s H1 relies on in-house M107 electric joint motors only, which each boasts 360 Nm (265.5 lb.ft) of peak torque and can also be found on the company’s B2 quadruped. Each leg has three degrees of freedom at the hip plus one at the knee and another at the ankle, and all cabling is routed internally for snag-free clean lines.

Unitree used reinforcement learning simulation to train the H1 in the art of in-place flipping, which it almost pulled off as planned – save for a corrective mini jump at the end.

Unitree H1 The World’s First Full-size Motor Drive Humanoid Robot Flips on Ground

Though such a visually impressive skill is probably an important thing to have on your robot resume, real-world applications beyond entertaining party guests seem somewhat limited. Fortunately, the H1 has already added potentially more useful achievements to its development trophy cabinet – including speed-walking, stair climbing, a standing-jump and even dancing.

The H1 is a fairly recent entry to the humanoid development space, but already carries an estimated price tag of US$90k – though might take up to 10 years to appear on the marketplace. It stands 1.8 m (71 in) tall, tips the scales at 47 kg (104 lb) and can carry up to 30 kg (66 lb) of payload. Its arms don’t end in human-like hands like Tesla’s Optimus or Figure’s 01 at the moment however, but such things are being worked on.

While Unitree has claimed a world speed record of 3.3 meters per second (7.4 mph), the company expects the commercial unit to top out at something like 5 m/s for general use. A head-mounted sensor array comprising 3D LiDAR and an Intel RealSense depth camera make for scanning the world around it. And the specs currently list a replaceable 864-Wh battery, but it’s still early days for the project.

Source: Unitree

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