Robots falling down will definitely cheer you up

I've just written about Thync, a mood-altering gadget that you strap above your eyebrows which can improve your mood, but now I've found something even better.

A video compilation of clumsy humanoid robots hilariously falling down. Trust me, if this doesn’t lift your spirits, nothing will.

After years of work, the highly anticipated DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals are here, and in it some of the world’s finest robots are competing (or should I say their owners) for the first place prize of $2 million (£1.31m).

However, to get that prize, they must successfully pass a course which simulates an emergency or a disaster rescue mission. That course, filled with debris, tasks the robots in climbing stairs, driving vehicles, cutting through walls, opening doors and whatnot.

But here comes the hilarious part: unlike the trials where robots were tethered, in the finals they must be completely free of any strings.

That means lots, and lots of falling down. But if a robot can get up on its own, it’s good to go. If not, the team is allowed to come out and stand it back up, though they must take a 10-minute time penalty for doing so.

Since many of the robots are humanoid, the falling really is saddening, in a funny way. As DARPA program manager Gill Pratt said this week, "It’s amazing how we anthropomorphise these things ... It’s a pile of aluminium and copper wire and software. I don’t cheer for my laptop. But people cheer for these robots. And of course when it falls, we all feel terrible, ‘Uh, it got hurt.’"