5 Interesting Bots That You Should Know

Earlier this month, the Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics released a video of its humanoid robot running through a forest. The RoboCop-type bot, named Atlas, freaked out some people, but the footage also had some tech geeks cheering.

A bot that can run over rough, outdoor terrain is a big deal in robotics, a field in which researchers are constantly working to develop machines capable of moving around outside the lab. Boston Dynamics has a handful of bots that run just as well as Atlas, and researchers from other institutions are also building machines that can ramble about in the real world.


From fish-inspired bots that can swim under ships, to canine-like machines that can gallop up hills, here are five of the coolest, most capable robots out there:


  1. Atlas unleashed

The Atlas robot was used by several of the finalists who competed in the DRC in June, including the Florida-based team that came in second place and the sixth place team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though Atlas is a pretty good runner, the bot has room for improvement, according to Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics’ founder and a former professor at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University. (CMU).


  1. Snakes on an (inclined) plain

To build robots capable of sliding into small spaces and slithering over rocky terrain, researchers at CMU turned to snakes for inspiration. The modular snake robots created by CMU researchers can move their bodies in ways that humanoid robots would find troublesome. They crawl, they climb and some can even swim. But there was one thing that “snake bots” couldn’t do very well until recently: climb up sandy slopes. The snake bot can now slither over sand just as well as it can move across dirt. The new-and-improved bot is now an even more promising robot for future search-and-rescue missions.


  1. Man’s best robot friend

There are a lot of robots out there that could pass as pets, but how about a giant, mechanical dog? That’s how much Spot, Boston Dynamics’ newest, canine-inspired robot weighs. Spot can jog up and down hills, navigate through trees and keep its footing on uneven terrain. And the robot has siblings. Spot’s oldest brother, BigDog, is huge. And another Boston Dynamics four-legged bot, the LS3 robot, is just as big as BigDog, but it’s a bit faster and quieter, making it a better tool for soldiers and others who need discreet mechanical “pets” to carry their gear.


  1. Mechanical kitties

Speaking of pets, cat lovers needn’t feel neglected by the apparent lack of feline-inspired robots; there are several catlike robots out there, and they all have special skills.


  1. Futuristic fish

Another MIT robot made waves, after it demonstrated its swimming skills in an online video. Designed to swim just like a real fish, the autonomous bot is super flexible and fast, enabling it to turn on a dime. It’s important for this robot to mimic a fish precisely because it was made to infiltrate schools of fish and collect environmental data that can be brought back to researchers. Part of the robot fish’s success is its soft body, which mimics the anatomy of a fine-boned fish.


What do you think of these new and improved robotics technology? Very cool right?!


What Is Technological Progress?

With so much technology being developed, I sometimes wonder about the intersection of technology and progress. Are we really achieving progress through technological innovation?

Are these examples of progress?

  • I observe people walking about with their heads down focused on texting or running apps on smartphones. I have witnessed people colliding with stationary and moving objects as well as near accidents with people walking into the path of moving vehicles.
  • A group of young people are sitting in a cafe or other venue texting with each other on smartphones. Is it not better for them to socialize in the physical world when they have the chance?
  • Smartphone usage while driving a car, either talking or texting.
  • Crackberry users of smartphones from RIM.


What about the notion that technology is supposed to return more leisure time to people? By now, that is pretty much myth. I do not know of many professions where people are actually working fewer hours due to the availability of technology.


How about us using our smartphones? If you own a smartphone and if you’re reading this then chances are you do. Then you’ll be all too aware of the nightly ritual of plugging in your mobile to charge it ready for the morning. Few of today’s top models can last more than a full day of steady use, with current lithium-ion technology struggling to keep pace with the growth in screen sizes and power requirements of our handsets.


But why is battery technology lagging and why doesn’t it seem to be getting any better? I’ve analysed the current state of the market to bring you the reasons why you have to charge your phone every night and how that could change over the next few years.


A very brief, simplified science lesson: the lithium-ion battery inside your phone isn’t fully lithium, and if it was, it would last a lot longer. Every battery has three main components: an electrolyte providing electrons, an anode discharging them, and a cathode receiving them.


Not really are we achieving progress with much lesser work because of technology but will also add up problems about batteries easily drained.


Anyhow, I still love technology. I love technology but I don’t know if my life’s been improved. Like everybody I spend a lot of time browsing my phone but equally I’m aware that’s kind of disgusting. I’ll go off on holiday with my partner and we are sitting on some amazing beach and she’s looking through Twitter. I always feel a bit sad, but I’m equally aware that I do that same thing.


It is apparent that technology has the potential to harm or enhance our social skills and social life. The key is to analyse how technology affects us socially. Do technologies help you build positive, meaningful relationships, or do technologies hinder this process? Are you better able to communicate, listen, and share because of the technologies in your life? Do you use technologies to improve your relationships and build new ones? Are you letting a few choice people know who you are and what you contribute to this world, or are you merely distracting yourself with shallow pursuits? Does technology increase or decrease your concern for others, your compassion for others, and your desire to serve them? Such are the critical questions regarding technology and social development.