R Daneel, a humanoid robot, can stand up after falling over by kicking up its legs and rocking onto its feet. Developed at the University of Tokyo, the 60kg robot was named after an Isaac Asimov character. From New Scientist:
"The robot is not controlled all the time through a predefined trajectory - as is typically done in robotics," says Max Lungarella, who works at the lab where R Daneel was developed...Link to New Scientist article, Link to amazing video of R Daneel in action (via We Make Money Not Art)
The research project is aimed at exploring more flexible - and graceful - ways for robots to interact with the world around them. "The main idea behind the design of the robot is the exploitation of body dynamics," Lungarella told New Scientist.
The same blend of control and flexibility used in standing up could also be applied to other robot tasks, Lungarella believes. "All kinds of tasks - particularly dynamics-based ones - can be addressed with our framework. We are currently looking at jumping, rolling, walking, trotting, swinging, reaching and grasping."