Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Watch this robot do the Bottle Cap Challenge—and show a new way to control machines

July 12, 2019
MIT CSAILMIT CSAIL

It isn’t quite a roundhouse kick, but check out the robot above in a simpler version of the “Bottle Cap Challenge.” (If you haven’t come across this yet, it consists of people trying to kick the top off a screw-top bottle without knocking it over.)

Why, tho? Social-media kudos aside, what the video actually demonstrates is an effective new way to control and interact with a robot. 

How’s it work? The underlying system, called RoboRaise, monitors a person’s muscles using EMG sensors, with help from a machine-learning algorithm that maps signals to physical movement. The robot then tries to mimic a person’s movements, although a user can also exert some control through careful flexing. It can be applied to any robotic hardware.

Robots like us: Despite so much talk of “robots replacing people,” the future is likely to involve a great deal of cooperation and collaboration. There will be many situations where a human’s intelligence and adaptability are required to help machines accomplish a task. 

The Bottle Cap Challenge might be a pointless exercise, for both humans and robots, but in this case it shows the kind of deft control that could help us interact with technology more effectively in the future. 

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Why Meta’s latest large language model survived only three days online

Galactica was supposed to help scientists. Instead, it mindlessly spat out biased and incorrect nonsense.

DeepMind’s game-playing AI has beaten a 50-year-old record in computer science

The new version of AlphaZero discovered a faster way to do matrix multiplication, a core problem in computing that affects thousands of everyday computer tasks.

A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing

Online videos are a vast and untapped source of training data—and OpenAI says it has a new way to use it.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.