The uncanny valley appears pretty frequently in these pages, at least in presentation — like the disembodied baby head above, for instance, or the wonderfully horrible Telenoid. These robots and others represent the gulf in our robot affinity that gapes open when machines approach a certain level of human likeness.
The emerging field of telepresence and telerobotics has produced some fairly out-there forms to carry out their functions, and researchers at Yamagata University in Japan don't seem to have any problem pushing that envelope. Their concept: a telepresence robot that quite literally is that voice in your ear, that angel (or devil) on your shoulder. The MH-2 (for "miniature humanoid") is a remotely controlled robot that lives on your shoulder and conveys a person's gestures and movements from a distance.
Roboticists make robots out of all kinds of things, but Aaron Ohta at the University of Hawaii at Manoa makes them out of thin air. While we usually think of robots as mechanical, Ohta’s lab has devised a way to make robots out of bubbles of air powered by lasers, IEEE Spectrum reports.
This three-week-old robot created at the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group is spinning a web. Or maybe it’s more like a cocoon. Whatever you call it, it’s doing so without any help from humans, using tensile materials like string and rope to shroud itself in a woven enclosure of its own creation.
Flying objects can achieve forward thrust in a few ways, but here's a unique new one: Flipping inside out to move forward. Designed by the people who brought us the amazing robot seagull, the SmartInversion flying object can move through the air indefinitely.
The object is based on a design envisioned by inventor Paul Schatz. It's a six-sided articulated ring of prisms that attaches to a cube, and when it's unleashed, it can start folding into new geometric shapes. As it turns itself inside out, it moves forward.
If you fear the robot apocalypse, perhaps your day would be much improved if you just moved on. Boston Dynamics’ PETMAN robot, developed for DARPA, is getting more humanoid-like by the day it seems, and here we see it--legs, torso, arms, and all--negotiating staircases, running on a treadmill, and even hitting the floor for some pushups. All this strength training appears to be doing PETMAN some good.
Over at BBC, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy has examined what he’s calling the world’s first anthropomimetic robot--a robot that mimics in extremely high anatomical detail the movements and construction of the human body. The robot, named ECCEROBOT, possesses artificial analogs of human bones, muscles, and tendons that endow it with human-like motions and--perhaps someday--will imbue it with human-like intelligence.