The Week's Best Robot Videos: A Knife-Wielding Bot Makes Salad

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 2 2012 1:00 PM

The Week's Best Robot Videos: A Knife-Wielding Bot Makes Salad

CIROS
CIROS in the kitchen

Still from YouTube.

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 defend the high seas, help astronauts stay in shape, and cook up a little something on the side.

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The Salad Bot
This knife-wielding robot isn’t here to kill you—it’s here to help. CIROS, created by the Korean Institute of Science and Technology, is designed to help out around the house and uses complicated algorithms to identify items it encounters in its environment. In this case, it makes a simple salad, and it has also demonstrated its ability to grab items from the fridge, serve tea, and scrub dishes. But maybe we should get it a less-frightening knife.

The Sea Drone
Attack drones aren’t just for the skies anymore. While unmanned aerial vehicles have become a defining weapon of the United States’ 21st-century wars, what we see here is the Navy’s first remote-controlled boat capable of firing missiles. As reported by Wired’s Danger Room, the inflatable boat shot six missiles at a floating target two miles away, with controllers driving it from a nearby naval base. Like UAVs, these drones could be useful for taking out targets where precision is essential—for example, if pirates in small boats try to take cover amid a group of other vessels that the Navy can’t shoot. It could be a long time before nautical drones hit the high seas, but if nothing else we can look forward to another great “G.I. Joe: Drone Operator” parody.

The Space Legs Bot
While NASA’s Robonaut 2 floats above Earth aboard the International Space Station (and stars in its own post-apocalyptic indie film), its components down here are making some big promises for humans. The X1 robotic exoskeleton is a mechanical suit designed to help astronauts exercise while in space, and here on Earth it can help paraplegics walk. In space, the joints would be configured to resist movement. Astronauts would have to exert force and work their muscles in order to move around, which would help them retain muscle mass during long stays in zero gravity. This configuration can be reversed, allowing the system to assist movement for people with limited mobility. The 57-pound suit was derived from the technology used for Robonaut 2 with the help of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and of Oceaneering Space Systems. The X1 is still in development, and NASA hopes to make it more useful by adding more joints in the future.

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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