Future Tense

The Week’s Best Robot Videos

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, an industrial bot shows off a hidden talent, and the military gets a rover to do some dirty work.

The Sketchy Bot
A few weeks ago we saw a robotic artist that took a deliberately clumsy approach to portraiture. This week’s artist is considerably more precise with its work. But art is really just a hobby for this bot from German’s Fraunhofer Institute.  As a day job, it uses its sensors to measure the reflectivity of different materials like street signs or safety devices. But at CeBIT, the international computer expo held annually in Hanover, Germany, the robot used its skills for a more creative pursuit. And like any good artist, it shows off the final product to the crowds that gather to watch.

Via AFP.

The Handy Bot
Roboticists worldwide are working to create mechanical versions of the human hand that would allow bots to operate in our world.  But the challenges involved are staggering. This device from HDT Global, however, shows some impressive dexterity with its speed and range of motion (albeit minus two fingers per hand). The arms can lift up to 110 pounds, unzip backpacks, and use a range of power tools. They can be mounted individually or side by side on a mobile base, and the specially designed remote controls allow the operator to perform precise work, even for something as volatile as dismantling a bomb.

Via IEEE Spectrum.

The Military Rover Bot
The FirstLook robot wasn’t built to be treated well. Weighing just five pounds, the rover can be thrown through windows, dropped up to 15 feet, and steered through rooms of broken glass. It can also climb obstacles up to eight inches tall and get itself right-side up after taking a tumble. The U.S. military just dropped $1.5 million for an order of this versatile rover, created by iRobot. It’s made to be simple to control so servicemen and -women don’t need special training to put it to good use. The control panel is a wearable screen that provides visual feedback to the operator, so service men and women wouldn’t need much special training to put it to good use. Judging by this (overly dramatic) promo video, it might just take a good aim and experience with a remote control car to get a look behind closed doors on the battlefield.

Via Time.