Future Tense

The Best Robot Videos of the Week: Spinning Webs and Making Street Art

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, robotic arms spin webs, tag walls, and prepare for liftoff. 

The Spider Web Bot

Spiders have inspired all kinds of creepy-crawly robots, so it’s almost refreshing to see a spiderlike bot based on function rather than appearance. This robotic arm at MIT’s Media Lab was designed to spin webs based on its surroundings. The idea is for the arm to find objects like branches or pegs that it can use to build webs of string, rope, or elastic. For now the design is preprogrammed and the robot knows the location of all the pegs. Researchers hope to make the bot autonomous, so it can learn where pegs are and spin webs of its own design. Because the world really needs more spider webs.

Via PC Advisor.

The Graffiti Car Bot

When they’re not spinning webs, robotic arms have been found trying out other forms of art, like portraiture and disc-jockeying. Now they’re hitting the streets. Street artist Jeff Soto, featured in the video, controls the paint blaster and other machines from inside the car, and toward the end a robotic arm comes in to work on the precise elements that Soto says he couldn’t do himself. (Seriously, check out those circles.) The end result, a collaboration of man and machine, is a beautifully vivid work of art, and an equally vivid mess covering car and pavement. This project is meant to promote the new Chevy Sonic.


The Russian Cosmobot

This handsy bot is working its way into space. Designed by the Russian Space Agency, SAR-400 is essentially the same as NASA’s Robonaut 2, which famously shook hands with a human aboard the International Space Station in February. The Russian version, however, comes with tactile feedback so the remote operator can feel whatever is in the robot’s hands. SAR-400 doesn’t have any autonomous functions, but the precise controls demonstrated in the video will hopefully let a human do a wide range of potentially dangerous work aboard the International Space Station. The Russian Space Agency wants to have the bot on the ISS in the next two years, where it can help with maintenance, including examining the station’s exterior.

Via the Verge, Gizmodo.