RoTM maybe not
> The constant chatter on the show floor was regularly accented by the dull "thump" of robots hitting the floor.
> two engineers, poised nervously at the sidelines like ball retrievers at a tennis tournament
Well there's yer problem. Sounds to me like the engineers are being like over-caring parents.
I'd bet back at the lab those same engineers are spending all their time just standing their creations back up again.
What they should be doing is designing the robot to be able to PHYSICALLY get back up again itself. And then they should be spending all their time getting their robots, via software, to lift their own shiny metal asses back off the floor, then LEARN to stay up.
Good old Bender of Futurama.
And whatever happened to the neural nets research? I thought they'd already cracked robots staying up like humans do using neural nets taking input from an accelerometer (same as in a Wii-remote).