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 take on the K-pop song of the summer and lend a helpful hand on the factory floor.
The Gangnam Bots
We’ve all been subjected to enough Gangnam Style for a lifetime, but who doesn’t love seeing robots try out every iconic dance there is? The dancers seen here were built from Robotis’ Bioloid robotics kit, an educational DIY robotics set that people love putting to music. Though these machines don’t have all the flair and energy of PSY, the Korean pop star behind the song, they sure give it a pretty impressive shot—just imagine how much closer it’d be if they could perfect that little horse-back riding move. Who’s up for the DARPA Gangnam Style Challenge?
The Friendly Factory Bot:
Robots have a complicated relationship with American manufacturing. For the most part, they’re cheaper than human workers, much more precise, and can work around the clock. But they also replace people on the assembly line and turn factories into workplaces for a small number of highly skilled engineers. That’s why Rethink Robotics created Baxter, an industrial robot designed to work with just about anyone in a factory. As Rethink Robotics founder Rodney Brooks explains in this video, Baxter is easy to program and safe to be around. Its cartoonish eyes help users predict its next moves, and it stops moving when it bumps up against something—meaning workers won’t have to worry about being injured by a robot gone rogue. The bot, which is already employed in a Connecticut plastics factory, gives an idea of how automation can work alongside people in manufacturing, rather than simply replacing them.
Via Technology Review.
This is one of those fictional robots I’d rather not see come to life—but if it must, at least it was done well. This less lethal version of the Aperture Science Sentry Turret, also known as the trigger-happy bad guys in the Portal video gamesrecently entered the real world thanks to Weta Workshop, the New Zealand-based props company responsible for the Lord of the Rings movies. The team at Weta made the life-size sentry bot for Valve Corp., the creators of Portal. Like its virtual counterpart, a motion detector activates the turret, though this one packs flashing lights rather than bullets.