The Best Robot Videos of the Week: Spinning Webs and Making Street Art

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 27 2012 1:42 PM

The Best Robot Videos of the Week: Spinning Webs and Making Street Art

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, robotic arms spin webs, tag walls, and prepare for liftoff. 


The Spider Web Bot

Spiders have inspired all kinds of creepy-crawly robots, so it’s almost refreshing to see a spiderlike bot based on function rather than appearance. This robotic arm at MIT’s Media Lab was designed to spin webs based on its surroundings. The idea is for the arm to find objects like branches or pegs that it can use to build webs of string, rope, or elastic. For now the design is preprogrammed and the robot knows the location of all the pegs. Researchers hope to make the bot autonomous, so it can learn where pegs are and spin webs of its own design. Because the world really needs more spider webs.

Via PC Advisor.

The Graffiti Car Bot

When they’re not spinning webs, robotic arms have been found trying out other forms of art, like portraiture and disc-jockeying. Now they’re hitting the streets. Street artist Jeff Soto, featured in the video, controls the paint blaster and other machines from inside the car, and toward the end a robotic arm comes in to work on the precise elements that Soto says he couldn’t do himself. (Seriously, check out those circles.) The end result, a collaboration of man and machine, is a beautifully vivid work of art, and an equally vivid mess covering car and pavement. This project is meant to promote the new Chevy Sonic.


The Russian Cosmobot

This handsy bot is working its way into space. Designed by the Russian Space Agency, SAR-400 is essentially the same as NASA’s Robonaut 2, which famously shook hands with a human aboard the International Space Station in February. The Russian version, however, comes with tactile feedback so the remote operator can feel whatever is in the robot’s hands. SAR-400 doesn’t have any autonomous functions, but the precise controls demonstrated in the video will hopefully let a human do a wide range of potentially dangerous work aboard the International Space Station. The Russian Space Agency wants to have the bot on the ISS in the next two years, where it can help with maintenance, including examining the station’s exterior.

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



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. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.