The Week's Best Robot Videos: Bots Throw Up and Do Gymnastics. (Not at the Same Time.)

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 4 2013 5:02 PM

The Week's Best Robot Videos: Bots Throw Up and Do Gymnastics. (Not at the Same Time.)

FT-RoboGymnast
It's no Gabby Douglas, but this bot has some gymnastics moves.

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, robot get sick for science, throw some punches, and try to stick a landing.

Advertisement

The Vomiting Bot
It’s a new year, and what better way to celebrate the future than with a robot that pukes all over the floor so you don’t have to? The aptly named Vomiting Larry is a humanoid with spectacular spewing capabilities. Researchers at the British Health and Safety Laboratory built Vomiting Larry to study how the fast-spreading norovirus is transmitted when an infected person throws up, and the result is equally gross. According to their study, the explosive vomiting demonstrated by Larry can jettison virus particles up to 10 feet away, and exposure to fewer than 20 norovirus particles can make a person sick. That sheds some light on how the illness is able to affect so many people—about 21 million in the United States each year ,according to the Centers for Disease Control—but scientists are still in the dark when it comes to a cure. Skip to about 2:40 to see Larry in action. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands.

Via PopSci.

The Meta Bot
Robots fighting robots is nothing new. But robots leading other robots in a proxy war against humans? Now you’ve got my attention. This man-vs.-machine bout of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots features a Fanuc M-20iA factory bot in the red corner, duking it out with a human from Synaptic Robotics in the blue corner. OK, it isn’t really an impressive demonstration of robotic dexterity. After all, it’s just doing the same motion over and over again. But this thing is probably as good as any Mortal Kombat button-masher you knew growing up.

Via Uproxx.

The Gymnast Bot
I love finding a good, agile robot, almost as much as I enjoy watching those robots fail. In all fairness, this bot’s work on the horizontal bar is impressive—the dismount just needs a little work. YouTube user Hinamitetu has been building robot gymnasts for the past few years, and if you scroll through the channel, you can see an array of tricks (including a couple of successful landings). The bot in this video stands about 18 inches tall and weighs about 13 pounds, so I imagine it could do some damage flying around the room like that.

Extra bits

Aside from military drones, President Barack Obama’s favorite robot must be the autopen, a device that allowed him to sign this week’s fiscal cliff-averting bill from Hawaii. National Journal has a brief history of the autopen, and a video of one scribbling the ol’ John Hancock.

Astrobotic Technology is gunning for Google’s $20 million Lunar X Prize with a plan to put rovers on the moon. The plan calls for launching the bots in October 2015 to scout for polar ice and determine a way to harvest it so humans might someday set up a moon colony. Read more at VentureBeat.

With rovers on Mars and the moon, the next logical step is to explore a Martian moon, right? A spiky robotic hedgehog is being developed to explore the Red Planet’s larger moon, Phobos. Read more from NBC News.

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

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.