The Week’s Coolest Robot Videos, Animal Edition

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 4 2011 3:56 PM

The Week’s Coolest Robot Videos, Animal Edition

Every Friday, Future Tense rounds up the week’s best robot videos—from dancing automatons to military machines. Have you seen a great robot video? Send it our way or leave it in the comments.

This week, meet three biology-inspired works of mechanical genius.

Torie Bosch Torie Bosch

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

Advertisement

1. The Robo-Guide Dog

Though they do wonderful work, guide dogs (and seeing eye ponies) for the blind have some obvious drawbacks—including passers-by who on stroking animals in spite of clear “Don’t pet me, I’m working” signage.

Enter the guide robot. The latest prototype, the third created by the Japanese company NSK since 2005, can only move 3.8 kilometers per hour, so it isn’t quite ready for the fast-paced visually impaired. But in the future, the robot might be superior to the traditional canine in some ways—for instance, by coming equipped with GPS.

Via TechCrunch.

2. PETMAN

PETMAN, or Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin, was created by Boston Dynamics, with funding from the U.S. Army, to test “chemical protection clothing.” But the bot, which many are comparing to the Terminator, will likely have other uses as well. The president of Boston Dyanmics told IEEE Spectrum, "There are all sorts of things robots like PETMAN could be used for. Any place that has been designed for human access, mobility, or manipulation skills. Places like the Fukushima reactors could be accessed by PETMAN-like robots (or AlphaDogs), without requiring any human exposure to hazardous materials. Perhaps firefighting inside of buildings or facilities designed for human access, like on board ships designed for human crews."

Via Gizmodo.

3. The Gecko Bot

Technically, it’s a “tailless Timing Belt Climbing Platform (TBCP-II) utilizing dry adhesives with mushroom caps.” But calling it a gecko robot is simply more fun. The bot’s creators, from Canada’s Simon Fraser University, hope that it could eventually be used in everything “from inspecting pipes, buildings, aircraft and nuclear power plants to deployment in search and rescue operations.”

Via the Guardian.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.