The Week's Best Robot Videos: Beatle Bots and More

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 6 2012 5:16 PM

The Week's Best Robot Videos: Beatle Bots and More

Every Friday, Future Tense rounds up the best robot videos of the week. Seen a great robot video? Tweet it to @FutureTenseNow, or email us.

This week, robots perform the Beatles, play chess, and get kicked around a gym.

Advertisement

The Fabbed Four Bots

Considering some other Beatles news this week, the Hubos face steep competition to become the next generation of the Fab Four. Researchers at Drexel University’s Music & Entertainment Technology Laboratory designed the robotic tribute band’s performance of “Come Together” as a (very expensive) demonstration of technology and creative expression. The band members could use a jolt of energy to liven up the show, and the singer could take some vocal lessons from Japan’s HRP-4C, but it’s still worth a watch. But beware RoboYoko.

The Chess Bot

Here’s some good news for correspondence chess fans. As part of a senior project at Northeastern University, Reddit user FunGowRightNow combined the principles of automated chess boards with the power of the Internet, making it possible for competitors on opposite sides of the globe to engage in a game of chess in the physical world. An Arduino-powered mechanism below the board tracks movement, transmits data, and moves the competitor’s pieces into place. According to the post on Reddit, the software behind the project knows the rules of the game, so it can identify check situations and prevent illegal moves. The students working on the project say they’ll post some documentation online once they’re finished, so we could see a whole community of telepresence-chess players emerge in the next several months.

Via Gizmodo.

The Rollin’ Bot

MorpHex showed off its moves in December, and while the dancing and turning were impressive, it was disappointing to see a ball that didn’t roll. Now the bot that goes from zero to six legs in under three seconds can zip around the room, and we get a better look at how it crawls, adjusts its size, and artfully twirls its triangular panels. (And at the risk of recognizing the Star Wars prequels, doesn’t that move at 1:30 look like a precursor to destroyer droids?) Kåre Halvorsen, the bot’s creator, entered his project in the Boca Bearings 2012 Innovation Competition, where it holds a commanding lead over the other projects. The next step, Halvorsen says on his blog, is to make MorpHex more symmetrical on the inside, so it won’t have to roll in a curved path like it does now. He may also try a new design for the legs, so hopefully we’ll see more good things from this project.

Via the Verge.

The Spatula Bot

Who knew spatulas could give a robot so much charm? Instructables editor and DIY guru Randy Sarafan put this crawling bot together with some common household objects and inexpensive electronics. Its main function is to crawl forward, and a forward-facing sensor detects any objects that the bot should try to avoid. An open-source Arduino chip serves as the bot’s brain, and as Sarafan explains, more advanced programming could lead to more complex functions than the ones we see here. Sarafan posted the how-to guide for this simple bot, so now you’ve got something to do with your spare time (and spatulas) this weekend.

Via Technabob.

Bonus: For all the fans of the Qbo robot, TheCorpora released a time-lapse video this week showing the bot’s assembly process. In less than three hours, a bunch of plastic, metal, and electronic parts turn into a robot that likes what it sees when it looks in the mirror.

Via CNet.

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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.