Japanese Robots like the HRP-2 are learning how to push heavy objects around in place of humans. When you need to move something but it’s too heavy, most people try one of two strategies: either find someone stronger or push/pull it along the floor instead of lifting it.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo’s JSK Laboratory are now teaching robots to do the latter. The most recent version of the HRP-2 is able to evaluate how heavy an object is prior to executing a variety of methods to exert force on the object. Low force techniques include pushing and pulling with its arms. High force technique involve leaving in with its shoulder and really putting its back into it.

To conserve energy, the Japanese robot begins with low force methods. HRP-2 monitors if the object has moved and if movement is not detected, it shifts into a high force technique. Throughout the entire process, the robot monitors its feet placement to make sure it doesn’t fall over and to maintain proper balance. 

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