World’s first humanoid to do a backflip without hydraulics

Unitree H1 Humanoid Backflip
Knees bent, arms thrown back: Unitree's H1 gears up for an electrifying backflip. Image courtesy Unitree

In a significant leap forward for robotics, Unitree’s H1 humanoid robot has achieved what others have not: performing a standing backflip without relying on hydraulics. This milestone follows the company’s recent achievement of setting a new world speed record for humanoid robots. While robots like Boston Dynamics’ Atlas have impressed audiences with their acrobatic backflips, they have traditionally relied on heavy and potentially leaky hydraulics. Unitree’s approach with the H1 represents a departure from this, utilizing in-house developed M107 electric joint motors to power the robot’s movements.

Each M107 motor, which also features in Unitree’s B2 quadruped robot, delivers a peak torque of 360 Nm (265.5 lb.ft), allowing the H1 to execute its acrobatics with precision. The H1’s design incorporates three degrees of freedom at each hip, plus additional articulation at the knee and ankle joints. All cabling is thoughtfully routed internally, ensuring a sleek appearance free from snags.

The backflip was perfected through reinforcement learning simulations, a testament to the advanced artificial intelligence techniques employed by Unitree. Although the Unitree H1’s backflip concluded with a minor corrective jump, the achievement remains a significant technological feat. Beyond its acrobatic capabilities, the H1 has demonstrated a broad range of movements including speed-walking, stair climbing, standing jumps, and even dancing, hinting at its versatility beyond mere entertainment.

Despite its recent introduction to the humanoid robot scene, the H1 has already garnered attention for its potential applications and performance. Standing 1.8 meters tall and weighing 47 kg, it can carry a payload of up to 30 kg. Unlike some of its contemporaries, the H1 currently lacks human-like hands, though developments in this area are underway.

The H1 is positioned as a high-end offering in the field of robotics, with an estimated price tag of US$90,000. However, it may take up to a decade before it becomes commercially available. Its impressive speed capabilities, currently holding a world record at 3.3 meters per second and anticipated to reach up to 5 m/s for general use, highlight its advanced design.

Equipped with a head-mounted sensor array, including 3D LiDAR and an Intel RealSense depth camera, the H1 is capable of navigating and interacting with its environment. The robot’s specifications also mention a replaceable 864-Wh battery, indicating a focus on longevity and operational efficiency. Unitree’s H1 is an exciting glimpse into the future of robotics, blending speed, agility, and advanced artificial intelligence in a form factor that challenges the status quo.

Source: Unitree