Google’s Boston Dynamics-Built Robot Masters ‘Karate Kid’ Move And Takes DRC Final Competition

Pat Morita, best known for his role as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid, departed this world nearly a decade ago, but his martial arts lessons live on. Not just by humans, either -- IHMC's Atlas robot has mastered the balancing part of the infamous crane kick that allowed Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) to take home the trophy in the All-Valley Karate Tournament.

Atlas isn't yet able to pull off the full move, which involves a jump kick, but it can balance on one leg atop a column of cinder blocks while moving its arms up and down. That's impressive, and let's keep in mind that Atlas weighs 150 kilograms (over 330 pounds) and lacks intricate muscle fibers, whereas LaRusso weighed a mere 121 pounds when he practiced the move on a wooden log at the beach. Check it out:

Now take a look at LaRusso doing the full maneuver with a bum leg:

Atlas has also been known to go through obstacle courses in the dark, which begs the question, what's the point of all this? The simple answer is, "For the fun and challenge of it." Fair enough.

There are also practical applications for robots being able to maneuver like humans, like responding to a disaster scenario and facing rubble and other obstacles. Granted, robots don't necessarily need to take the general form of a human, though the Institute for Human Learning and Machine Cognition (IHMC) has an explanation for that as well.


"The IHMC focus on humanoid robots is rooted in a simple concept: Because the robots will be working in environments built for humans, a human-like robot is best-suited to the challenges involved," IHMC explains. "A robot responding to a typical disaster scenario is likely to face rubble and other obstacles, unsettled ground, closed or stuck doors and windows, ladders and other challenges. Humanoid robots that can navigate human-scale environments and use human-type tools will have an advantage."

Okay, but what happens if Johnny tries to sweep the leg? We imagine Johnny ends up with a broken shin.