Future Tense

Watch a Robot Blackjack Dealer in Action

But does he know when you’re counting cards?

Still from YouTube.

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, robots magically toss a stick, stack the deck, and get a little batty.

The Magic Acrobat Bots
We’ve seen quadrotor robots play catch before, and that was nothing short of impressive. But this latest trick makes those previous feats looks boring. The ETH Zurich team behind several other amazing quadrotor accomplishments now has their little drones combining a game of catch with a delicate balancing act, all while suspended in above ground. In real time, these quadrotors work autonomously to balance a rod on end, throw it to their partners, and catch it without letting it fall. The video details each step of this process in a way you just have to see for yourself.


Via IEEE Spectrum.

The Casino Bot
If you find it hard to trust blackjack dealers, ask yourself how having a robot at the table might change things. The versatile Dexter Bot from Yaskawa Motoman Robotics showed off its casino-floor skills last month at Automate 2013 in Chicago. The dealer uses little suction cups on its hands to pick cards off the pile and place them in front of the player, and a vision system lets it read the cards and do the math. Even if you prefer the company of a human dealer, these robots could be a great tourist attraction along the Vegas strip someday. And who knows, maybe they could play an exciting role in Danny Ocean’s next big casino heist.


Via SingularityHub.

The Batty Bot
Bats have a distinct way of flying that sets them apart from other winged animals. Their wing structure allows them to make a wide range of motions while still staying in the air, and that element could be valuable for manmade aircraft. Researchers at Brown University studied the dynamics of bat flight to build their own robotic bat wing. This ro-bat mimics the wings of the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, and testing shows it can generate enough lift to get a real bat off the ground. The data collected from the tests lend insight into the efficiency of bat flight, which could inspire bat-like drones in the future. The wing can’t actually fly at the moment, but that’s OK—a certain comic book hero has been doing just fine with flightless bat wings for decades now.


Via Brown University.

The Grill Bot
For whatever reason, robotic cleaners has really taken off this year. There’s a new bot to clean windows, another to wipe off iPhones, and now there’s even one to scrape down the grill. Grillbots are about the same as their vacuuming cousins. Place one on the grill and it’ll roam around, using wire brushes to scrape all the grime left behind from that rack of ribs. They’ll even work on a hot grill, and have different modes for a quick brushing or a deep clean. Nobody likes all the clean-up after a great meal, so come springtime, this could be an avid barbecuer’s best friend.

Via Technabob.

Extra Bits

-After seeing several experiments of controlling robots with human brains, it’s finally happened: robot avatars for monkeys. Read more from the Verge.

-Robots are often hailed as revolutionary devices in the operating room, but even as robotic-assisted hysterectomies became more common in 2010, their biggest impact was raising medical costs. Read more from Reuters.

-3-D-printed suction devices could bring about robotic octopi. More from Mashable.