The Week’s Best Robot Videos: Check Out A Brand Spanking New Car

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 31 2012 12:59 PM

The Week’s Best Robot Videos: Check Out A Brand Spanking New Car

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, we see a machine on the drums, a car gets a robotic spanking, and a new explorer goes under the sea.

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The “Spanking” Bot

Toyota made what is easily the strangest robot video we’ve seen in quite some time. The car is the new Toyota Auris, but the whole contraption is something apparently called a “spanking orchestra.” For reasons I’m not going to question, the hatchback was outfitted with a bunch of robotic hands, all connected to a computer that claps them against the car to create this… well, art. If there’s any justice in this world, the Spanking Orchestra will come to America and join forces with the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir to create the ultimate travelling robo-supergroup.

The Little Drummer Bot

Here we have four arms, two legs, and one mechanical rock star. Stickboy, seen in this new video playing a tribute to The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” was built in 2007 by Frank Barnes of Robocross Machines, and can play a selection of songs including Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” and AC/DC’s “TNT.” The robot is set up to play a 14-piece drum set, and even has a tour of its own. If that metal mohawk isn’t hardcore enough for you, check out Stickboy on stage as two surveillance camera/pole dancer hybrids dance around him.

The Sea Bot

Seafaring robots are a promising technology to help us keep an eye on the world beneath the waves. Roboticists have built jellyfish, mantas, and octopi that could one day patrol the open seas, paying special attention to an environment that’s hard for us to track. This proof-of-concept bot from Tom Zambrano at AeroVironment runs on solar power, and is named Mola, after the scientific name for sunfish. The body is a large solar panel with two fins, and a detachable tail of solar panels helps it soak up some extra rays near the surface. Mola can move through the water at up to two knots (about 2.3 miles per hour) while collecting information about the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the water. Of course, fish are known for chomping down on anything shiny, so we might just have to hope it doesn’t look too tasty when it goes for a swim.

Via NBCNews.

The Paper Bot

Complex robots aren’t always made of heavy metals and complicated electronics. To prove that, artist Kikosuya made this walking, gun-slinging machine out of materials you’d find in your home office. The Mechanical Paper Robot is impressive in many ways, but perhaps the most amazing thing is the functional rubber band machine gun (look out, precariously stacked cardboard boxes—it’s comin’ for ya). The designer was kind enough to post a video showing the building process, so you have no excuse to be bored on this long weekend.

Via Engadget.

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.