Every Friday, Future Tense rounds up the best robot videos of the week. This week we see advancements in motion and situational awareness.
The Flexible Bot
In the future, even robots dance the worm. This flexible bot created by a team at Harvard breaks from the rigidity of robotic motion by using a novel locomotive system: pumping air into the different legs to move around. Researchers looked to animals like squids and starfish to create this soft-bodied machine, which can stand tall, lie flat, and slide its way into—and back out of—a tight spot. Even if the motion is still a little unsettling, you can’t help but cheer the thing on.
The Self-Aware Bot
Qbo the robot just saw its own reflection, but the real takeaway might be that modesty is hard to program. A product of the Corpora Robotic Co., Qbo can learn to recognize objects and faces. We see the robot identify a person and then a picture of a penguin, but when it rolls up to a mirror, it has to learn what it’s looking at. As noted in the video description, there aren’t many species of animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror. Our guess is there are even fewer that see themselves and say, “Nice.”
The Builder Bots
These robots might not know what they look like, but they know how to work together. The quadrocopter construction teams developed at the University of Pennsylvania work in “swarms” here to build a tower out of magnetic beams and joints. What’s impressive is their ability to fly together in the same small area, and they make quick work of a project much larger than they are. People might have trouble warming up to the idea of robots flying overhead with heavy pylons, but in theory the process could reduce construction to blueprints, a computer, and a swarm of bots.
The Airshow Bots
Also in the teamwork category is this project from the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control in Zurich, Switzerland. Showing off further ability for flying robots to work together in a tight space, these quadrocopters jump into formation without colliding. The first part shows them flying to predetermined points, and the second shows them picking points at random.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.