By Robert Hickson 03/07/2019


 

Four years ago I wrote about getting too carried away with evolutionary metaphors for robots. But I can’t deny that we’re are seeing an increasing diversity of robotic forms and capabilities.

The technological sophistication of high-end robotics, and the speed with which they are improving, is impressive. Check out SpotMini’s moves.

 

Although a better display of it’s capabilities, and those of it’s canid-like robo-compatriots, can be seen in this video:

But equally, there are very interesting developments in other areas of robotics. Such as a soft robotic lion fish that uses fluid for both it’s mobility and power source, mimicking the multifunctional nature of animal circulatory systems.

Or self-organising robot swarms.

And then there is this robot, which looks like the sad outcome of a late night engineering meets art project. Some (relatively) simple sensors and motors, coupled with deep learning capabilities (a form of artificial intelligence) mean that “found objects” – such as sticks – can be used by the system to learn to move about. Not particularly efficiently, and it can’t assemble itself (not yet anyway), but it is both an illustration of how software can learn, and signals a further direction that robotics is branching out into.

Bright shiny bots, and squishy ones too, aren’t the only options any more. MacGyver meets Inspector Gadget.

 

I’d pay good money to watch Atlas the robot play fetch with SpotMini and StickBot.