The Chinese robotic company LimX calls themselves “disruptive legged robotics technology for a boundless future.” This video of their surprising little club-footed biped drives the point home.

In this video of a test, the greatest difference between the forest environment and a laboratory or city is that no steps, slopes, or stretches of flat ground are the same. The P1 model robot apparently is moving through territory it has not encountered before. Including attempts to trip it. This is called Zero-shot Learning.

The test is said to take place in the Tanglang Mountains, and it is claimed there is no input from the engineers during the test. China has the highest rate of retraction of any nation doing science research, so do take this with a grain of salt. The camera can lie, but watching this thing stumble through the forest and manage not to fall over is still pretty impressive stuff.

According to the researchers, the P1’s dynamic locomotion is achieved with reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning (RL) is a machine learning technique that trains software to mimic the trial-and-error learning process that humans use. This is a kind of AI. The most difficult aspect of building humanoid robotics is developing an AI capable of accurately and quickly interpreting sensor data to balance/move/perform tasks. LimX seems to have achieved that.

The moving parts are often off-the-self servomotors, though for a two legged bot like this you’d need at least six. The flat-footed gait helps with balance, but is a bit reminiscent of the AT-ST Walkers in Return of the Jedi… Suggested applications include hazardous scenarios, high-end services, automobile manufacturing, and in-home services. The company says: “our definition of robots is human-centered: going where humans go and doing what humans can do.” LimX also reported a bot capable of climbing stairs in January 2024.

And there’s this military robot dog, that also can handle uneven terrain.

Never mind the automatic rifle strapped to its back. There is clearly no means of actually firing the gun in this configuration, and the weapon itself likely redlines the bot’s carrying capacity. This particular image was obviously made for propaganda purposes, and looks pretty silly. That said, the bot looks perfectly capable of performing surveillance and reconnaissance missions without endangering its human compatriots.

A list of Robot makers

Humanoid Robots are in development by an assortment of manufacturers:

Disney has some amazingly cute walking robots they’re testing in parks.

Perhaps the most impressive robots are still coming from Boston Dynamics. Here is the Atlas doing parkour; again, this video is likely the result of some judicious editing. What we dont’ see is all the times it misses its jump and smashes into the floor. Still, it’s pretty clear that the age of robots is upon us.


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