Watch Robots Learn How to Take a Tumble Safely

When humans fall, they tend to have a sense of self-preservation. They stick out an arm, or a leg—anything to avoid hitting the ground nose-first. Robots? Not so much. 

But researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are teaching robots to fall gracefully, saving time and money for roboticists whose prize research project might break its neck—or its motor—trying to perform a task that might seem simple to a human, like walking over uneven terrain. 

Even the fanciest, smartest robots fall down sometimes. Just watch this gleeful compilation of cutting-edge ‘bots crashing into the ground at the DARPA Robotics Challenge:

The challenge was originally launched in 2011, just after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, as a way to encourage development of the kind of robots that could eventually replace humans working in highly dangerous areas—like repairing a downed nuclear reactor. In the places where these kinds of robots would be most useful, cleaning up and providing humanitarian aid after natural disasters, for instance, they’re also most likely to take a tumble over something unexpected. Far from the research lab, they need to be able to get back up again. 

The Georgia Tech algorithm allows a robot to calculate how to hit the ground with less force, so it doesn’t break itself. An accelerometer in the robot’s head and a motion-capture camera are the nervous system, in essence, giving it something akin to a human’s reflexes. Instead of falling however gravity takes it, the robot attempts to make more than one contact point with the ground, dissipating some of the energy of the fall. 

So far, the algorithm has only been tested on one robot, and in simulations with another, but given how many of the DARPA contest participants let gravity get the best of them, there’s plenty of test subjects to work with in the future. 

[h/t: MIT Technology Review]

Banner image screenshot via YouTube

Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]


More from mental floss studios