Stress testing robots…with baseball bats


When you are working on constructing the first Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 prototype a super-robust robotic arm, you’ve got to test it somehow, right?

You probably recognize the robot being abused in the video below, as we have talked about the construction of its hand once once before. The German Aerospace Center has been working on the DLR Hand Arm System for some time now, and are obviously really excited to show you how their design performs.

In case you are not familiar, the arm you see there uses 52 different motors, miniaturized control electronics, and a slew of synthetic tendons to behave like a human arm – only much better. The system’s joints not only provide for an incredible amount of articulation, they are specially designed to allow the unit to absorb and dissipate large amounts of energy without damaging the structure.

We think that any human would be hard pressed to retain their composure, let alone be able move their arm after suffering a blow from a baseball bat, yet the robot arm carries on just fine. It’s awesome technology indeed.


  1. Bob D says:

    I hope the next step is to improve the control and sensor system to it can duck.

    (Beating robots with baseball bats: This is why the bots create skynet.)

  2. Kade says:

    I love the cheesy, pleased look on the blokes face after he whacks it, john conner eat your heart out

  3. kyle says:

    sooo when the robots invade bring something bigger than a baseball bat

  4. Flood_of_SYNs says:

    When the robots take over I foresee this guy being the first to receive the robot’s wrath.

  5. winston says:

    note to self: baseball bat ineffective against robotic arm. find alternate means of defense.

  6. Hirudinea says:

    KYLE NO!! This thing looks pretty small, how much does it weigh, it could be used for amputees if its light enough. (Not that I would aprove beating amputees with baseball bats, we should save that for when the robots revolt.)

  7. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Cannot be good…

    “Hehehe…look, I made a robot that survives tanks and nuclear-fuck bombs”

  8. Ji0 says:

    Seems like he didn’t hit it extremely hard. In addition, he hit it at what seems like the least likely point to cause damage. I understand the idea that the joints move somewhat to redistribute the force. But I wouldn’t have expected a blow like this to damage it to begin with.

  9. AdamDZ says:

    LOL, the next logical step would be to make the arm grab the bat and hit the dude back :)

  10. Dax says:

    Yet the problem is, that while the parts are stronger and can take more abuse, the damage is cumulative and doesn’t go away.

    Aluminium parts are especially vulnerable to fatigue. You make a robot leg out of aluminium parts, and unless you seriously over-engineer it, it’s going to develop fractures and then fail.

    That’s why airplanes are glued instead of riveted when they make them out of aluminium. The idea is to spread the load without causing hots spots like on the rivet holes, where the material would fail under repeated cyclic stress.

    And that’s why you can’t easily make a car chassis out of aluminium either. People have tried, but they usually end up having the wheels pop off at inconvenient times.

  11. Taylor Alexander says:

    @Dax “You make a robot leg out of aluminium parts, and unless you seriously over-engineer it, it’s going to develop fractures and then fail.”

    While aluminum does have poor fatigue characteristics, it is still a great engineering metal. I would disagree with the assertion that you have to “seriously over-engineer it” to make parts that won’t develop fractures and fail (in a reasonable and useful lifetime).

    An incredible number of things are made out of aluminum that don’t fail, like mountain bikes, and even car frames. Audi has been using aluminum frames for a long time, and I’ve never heard of any Audi’s wheel popping off.

    There are some valid concerns with aluminum fatigue, and like you said things like airplanes may use glue instead of rivets on thin pieces like sheet metal, but for general machined parts, aluminum is great, and you could make a great robot leg out of it.

  12. Taylor Alexander says:

    Here is some information on Audi aluminum space frame technology:

  13. Skeptic says:

    Did anyone else notice the wire attached to the bat? Maybe an accelerometer to allow the arm to respond and better absorb the impact?

  14. anybodysguess says:

    Is it just me or did the bat bend?

  15. veneficus says:

    @Dax: Planes are made from aluminum parts. How old was the plane you flew on last time?

  16. Aaron says:

    Wonder how it’d stand up to 20mm fire.

  17. Philippe says:

    I have flown 30+ year old airplanes and I am pretty sure the aluminium skin was riveted, not glued. Yet, it didn’t fall off the sky.

    Here’s what a 30 second Google search yields:

    I think you are talking through your hat, sir.

  18. M4CGYV3R says:

    That guy enjoyed that way too much.

  19. hazardousracerx says:

    I work on 30+ year old planes made with aluminum sheets riveted to the frame and they only fall out of the sky occasionally ;) ….and those times are usually due to pilot error/engine failure not airframe failure.

  20. TheKhakinator says:

    the thing is, university materials courses in engineering degrees have a way of making everything sound very alarmist.

    my impression now is that it’s not even possible to build a vehicle to travel outside the atmosphere, because as soon as you get there, it’ll evaporate, or be torn to pieces my micrometeroids, or the crew will die because of solar radiation. That, and any plane I build will fall to bits because aluminium has such poor fatigue performance compared to steel, but it’s all we can use because steel’s too heavy.

  21. Shadyman says:

    Version 2.0 will grab the bat from him and swing it right back?

  22. critic says:

    take the weight off the arm and do it again!

  23. pRoFlT says:

    I want to see a video of the robot hitting the guy in the arm. That would be funnier.

  24. D-Lite says:

    >take the weight off the arm and do it again!

    That has been my first thought when I watched the video! The “hand” is just a metal bar and not very fragile and the weights attached to it absorb most of the energy. It’s the same principal when in shows people lay on the ground and get a stone plate laying on their stomach smashed by a sledge hammer. They don’t get hurt because the plate absorbs the energy.
    So – nothing special here – even a human could do it ;-)

  25. Solidacid says:

    D-Lite > i agree, i’m pretty sure I could hold a metal bar and have someone strike it with a bat without me getting hurt.

    i’d like to see them smack the shoulder or hang it from something and let children use the arm as a swing ^^

  26. I think the point is more that the robots joints are adjusted to take the blow. As aposed to being completely solid or simply swinging off wildly.

  27. critic says:

    > D-Lite: it absorb most of the energy
    Well, the baseball bat’s kinetic energy is transferred to the robotic arm, however because of the weight, the system is slowed down. While there is less speed, the force goes up..

  28. wardy says:

    I demand that the robot be able to hit the irritating smug guy with the bat.

  29. Isotope says:

    I think you’re missing the point. The robot took a significant blow and didn’t lose registration, as demonstrated by touching the ball. It shows that this robot doesn’t need recalibration after a jostle or crash.

  30. peter says:

    At minute 1:03, notice that the batter does two things to minimize the force of the impact. First he relaxes and bends his wrists and arms, allowing the bat at its point of impact to slow down significantly, and he loosens his grip on the bat, further affecting the force of the bat’s impact point.

    Yes, the bat hit the robot, but as others also pointed out, it was not a homerun swing by any means.

  31. jamie g says:

    Hits like a girl.

  32. Philippe says:

    Damn! Your kind always blame the pilots ;-)

  33. Torque says:

    Foul! Cyberdyne? Really? DLR is clearly German for Omni Consumer Products.

  34. Slimplynth says:

    @ Dax: Aluminium Rules!! :0) There are so many alloy options, that to think of anything as being made of just Aluminium is a bit crackers. It’s like saying Humans are made of just Carbon or just Water.

    I trust Aluminium way more than new fandangled composites, largely because Aluminium’s fatigue properties over time and it’s heat treatment/temper conditions are well documented. I won’t generalise by saying all composite materials will unpredictably shatter into a million pieces but keep your eyes peeled for the next plane to fall out of the sky and the reasons why…

  35. Slimplynth says:
  36. edHead says:

    So, unlike Robocop whose targetting systems can become misaligned due to mistreatment, this one will still be able to accurately shoot you in the ball.

    I like it.

  37. Jay Stainbrook says:

    Rivet holes on the aluminum skin of commercial airplanes are “cold worked” to the final diameter to reduce fatigue failures.

    Here’s a company that sells the tech:

  38. Max says:

    This arm is probably like a child to it’s creators, one of whom is probably the guy hitting it, so it’s no wonder he doesn’t want to hit it too hard (it’s like a reflex).

    When an arm like this reaches mass-production it would probably have more shielding for the now-visible parts.

  39. Bender says:

    For next round I hope the robot gets the baseball bat. :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,577 other followers