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 meet a metal band, a bot that’s all legs, and a rover designed to ruffle some feathers.
The Jam Bots
This is Compressorhead, “the world’s heaviest metal band.” Their music sounds just like the songs humans play—in this video they cover “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones—but these musicians have a few extra parts. The aptly named guitarist Fingers has 78 digits that help it play the guitar’s full musical range. Stickboy has four arms and two legs to keep a steady beat on drums, and you might notice Stickboy Jr. hanging out under the hi-hat. Bones, the bassist, appears to have the standard number of limbs, but we shouldn’t hold that against him. The group performed Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” a few weeks ago, and if you’re in Australia, you might be able to catch a performance at the Big Day Out Festival later this month.
Via Laughing Squid.
The Gundam Bot
It’s a few small steps for a robot, and one giant leap into the driver’s seat. Japanese roboticist Hajime Sakamoto built this fine set of legs as part of a project to create a real-life version of the mobile suits from the “Gundam” anime series. Until that’s possible, Sakamoto’s company, Hajime Research Institute, specializes in humanoid robots and has competed in the RoboCup soccer competition. Eventually Sakamoto wants a full-size Gundam suit that the driver can steer from inside. What we see here (if you tilt your head) isn’t quite powerful enough to defend freedom, but at 13 feet tall, and with enough strength to hold a person, it’s not a bad start.
The Scarecrow Bot
Birds can be extremely dangerous around airports—just ask Sully Sullenberger. Authorities responded to the Miracle on the Hudson by gassing nearly 400 geese in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Now, researchers in South Korea have come up with a solution to airports’ bird problem that’s both more humane and more sustainable. This mobile robot packs a scary punch for any bird near a runway. It blasts loud recordings like gunshots and sounds of predators while charging toward any birds in the area. Various sensors detect birds and report back to a control station, where a human can decide to chase the threat away. The researchers say this device has been about 20 percent more effective than other techniques, and if that means we’re all a little safer on airplanes, then that’s a good thing.
Via Scientific American.
The Fishy Bot
Swimming through the water can drain a robot’s battery supply quickly. To help submersibles stay underwater longer, Professor Xiaobo Tan at Michigan State University developed a system that pumps water in and out of a robot’s body, changing its buoyancy to rise and fall in the water. Equipment inside the body can also slide forward to point the bot’s nose down or backward to point the nose up. As the bot moves up or down, its fins keep it gliding forward, meaning it rarely needs to flap its tail for propulsion. Tan tells NBC News this low-power system allows the robot to stay submerged for really long periods of time, enough to travel 124 miles under the right conditions. These robots could be effective monitors for environmental conditions and could even join the ranks of last week’s heroes, which spotted and helped protect a pod of endangered whales.
Via NBC News.
-A robot from the Canadian Space Agency has begun tests to see if it can refuel satellites in orbit. Satellites are designed to run their course on one tank of fuel and then fall back to Earth, so this celestial gas-station attendant could save everyone lots of money. Read more from Yahoo News.
-Russia’s space agency announced plans to send a robot to the moon in 2015. More from DVICE.
-While the Curiosity rover works on its first attempt to drill into the Red Planet, another robot is watching from above. More from Discovery News.