7 Heart-Melting Robots That Hopefully Won't End Humanity
While there might be a real Skynet-style danger surrounding unchecked robotics and AI, many developers are striving to make robots user-friendly by simply... making them look friendly.
Have a look at these 7 incredibly cute robots that wouldn't be out of place in the Star Wars universe — a place where robots are designed to be so cute they sell a crazy amount of toys.
1. A robot bike rider
Look at this little fella go. The Primer V2 robot, developed by Japanese roboticist Masahiko Yamaguchi, is able to ride a bicycle in much the same way as a human.
As Design Boom explains, Yamaguchi attached a gyroscope to the robot, which allows it to calculate how sharply it needs to turn in order to compensate and remain balanced.
Yamaguchi also built a control unit, inserted into the robot's backpack, to ensure high processing speed. Watch out paperboys, this robot might be after your job — we're joking, digital media already saw to that.
2. A dancing bot army
No, we're not talking online bots spreading dancing memes and fake news throughout the web. We mean actual dancing robots.
Back in 2017, a Chinese toy manufacturer, WL Intelligent Technology broke a world record with its $230 Dobi robots. The company lined up 1,069 of them in Guangzhou, China, in order to do a synchronized robo-dance along to a techno beat.
This was part of a successful Guinness World Record attempt at having the highest amount of robots dancing simultaneously. The words "robot" and "army" used in the same sentence still make us lose sleep though.
3. A sun-chasing plant-carrying robot
Plants are "heliotropic," meaning they move towards sunlight in order to catch the sun rays that are vital to their survival.
Unfortunately, they can't uproot themselves and move towards the light when they've been completely covered from the sun.
That's where the aptly named Sun Tianqi, an AI, neuroscience, and robotics researcher, and founder of Vincross, comes in.
As Tianqi says in a blog post about his sun-searching droid, "with a robotic rover base, plants can experience mobility and interaction."
Specifically, this robot moves towards sunlight in order to keep the plant that is attached to it healthy.
"I do hope that this project can bring some inspiration to the relationship between technology and natural default settings," Tianqi explains.
Not only can the robot, called Hexa, move towards sunlight when needed, it also performs a cute little dance — or has a tantrum — when it needs to be watered.
The robot can also play with humans and move into the shade when it needs to cool off.
4. A giant leap for robotkind
SALTO, a leaping robot designed by UC Berkeley, stands for saltatorial locomotion terrain obstacles — it also means jump in Spanish.
The robot can jump higher than most humans in a single jump. However, the robot's ability to take multiple vertical jumps — in Super Mario style — makes it an incredible piece of robotics.
SALTO's jumping ability allows it to jump at 1.75 meters per second. That's more than a bullfrog's ability to jump 1.71 meters per second.
5. The world's cutest robot?
Robotics company Anki realized there was a gap in the market for an actual, real-life R2-D2. The company created an adorable helpful sidekick robot to help you with daily tasks.
Almost $2 million in backing for Vector makes it the most funded robotics project ever.
Inside the robot's tiny frame is an impressive array of technology. It contains a Qualcomm 200 Platform, an HD camera with 120 Ultra Wide FOV, Beamforming Four-Microphone Array, Infrared Laser Scanner, 6-Axis IMU, and a High-Res Color IPS Display.
6. Zero-gravity robot
When the cynics amongst us think of robots in spacecraft, we think about Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which a robot named HAL goes rogue and starts killing the space explorers it's meant to be protecting.
Int-Ball doesn't have quite so much power thankfully. The cute floating space ball is the International Space Station's resident robot drone. It is essentially a floating camera that can be remote-controlled from Earth.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) says the robot drone can move freely through autonomous flight and can record video footage from any angle.
In the future, JAXA developers want the Int-Ball to be able to check supplies and even help with any problems that might arise in space. The Int-Ball weighs 1kg (2.2lbs), has a diameter of 15cm, and has 12 propellers, according to The Japan Times.
The fact that it looks like a character from a Pixar movie also makes it psychologically pleasing to astronauts who have to spend a long time away from home.
7. Last but not least... the robot butt wiggle
This final robot bears a striking resemblance to Boston Dynamics' Spot robot. Spot has itself drawn comparisons to the menacing killer robot in Black Mirror episode Metalhead.
The best way to make a robot seem less menacing? Make it... twerk?
While it might not have a real practical purpose, at least it serves to show that robots don't have to be scary — and can even clown around.
It's the programmers and the people behind the robots that count. An important lesson perhaps.
Is this robot secretly being controlled by an AI that wants to give us a false sense of security before the eventual robot uprising?
Only time will tell.
Ashutosh Vashishtha has created a study desk that can generate electricity, based on the simple principle of electromagnetism.