The Week's Best Robot Videos: Kitchen Help and Cartwheelers

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 16 2011 5:31 PM

The Week's Best Robot Videos: Kitchen Help and Cartwheelers

Every Friday, Future Tense pulls together the best robot videos of the week. This week in robots was all about collaborating and crawling around.

The Coordinated Bots
Robots aren’t new to product assembly, but these bots show a real improvement over the typical industrial machine. Nextage bots work in perfect coordination to complete tasks (in this case, they’re putting together a simple electronic sign). Each is aware of its surroundings; if one robot is moved, it can orient itself and return to work. The developers, AIST and Kwada of Japan, made the robots look and move like humans so they can easily fit into our work environments. The question, of course, is if they’re skilled enough to actually replace the human workforce in factories.

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The Kitchen Bots
If your idea of the perfect robot resembles Rosie from The Jetsons, then this should be welcome news. These bots, Rosie and James from the Technical University of Munich, prepare a sandwich and popcorn. They decide for themselves how to move about the kitchen efficiently. Sure, you could probably make these meals faster on your own (and who pairs a sandwich with popcorn?), but it’s fun to see what they can do. In a nod to the XKCD web comic and those familiar with the command line, these bots refuse to make a sandwich until given the “sudo” command.

Via Engadget.

The Spider Bot
For someone who loves robots and hates spiders, Asterisk presents a dilemma. This “insect-inspired” robot has six legs instead of eight, but those with strong cases of arachnophobia may still experience some willies. But what Asterisk lacks in aesthetics it gains in versatility. The robot, designed at Japan’s Osaka University, can climb stairs, roll under low clearances, hang upside-down, spin in place, and use a wire to lower itself down to the ground from up high. The designers started with the idea of building a bot that could help in disaster situations, and think it could also play an important role in building maintenance. Asterisk can even do cartwheels. We’re not quite sure how that will come in handy in the aftermath of a disaster, but we’ll take it.

Via the Verge.

The Ball Bot
Another six-legged crawler, MorpHex is a mesmerizing white ball covered in panels that it uses to walk, dance, spin, and roll around. It crawls in much the same way Asterisk does, but in general, it’s artistic in the way robots usually are not. An earlier video from Norwegian creator Kare Halvorsen shows the inner workings without the panels in place, and you can’t help but think MorpHex is on its way so starring in a funky dance video.

Via Engadget.

Have you seen a good robot video lately? Tweet it to us @FutureTenseNow or leave a link in the comments.

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

Adam Sneed is a researcher for Future Tense at the New America Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @atsneed.

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