Fascinating and horrifying at the same time, robots inspire powerful emotions in people. This is especially true the more real to life they are. The following six robots are equally amazing and sometimes cringe-worthy.
With its long legs and articulated back, the Cheetah robot is as long, lean, and dangerous looking as its biological counterpart. Also like the fastest land animal, its robotic variant is the fastest legged robot in the world. Reaching speeds of more than 29 mph, it has set a new land speed record for robots. As amazing as this is, the Cheetah is confined to the lab; it can only operate on a treadmill, tethered to a support beam for balance and to its power-source, an external hydraulic pump.
The next generation of this robot is called the Wildcat. While its current maximum speed is only 16 mph, it’s able to run free. The scientists at Boston Dynamics, the developers of these machines, expect the Wildcat to eventually reach speeds of 50 mph over all types of terrain. Read more about the cheetah and other robotic wonders here.
As odious as some people find them, no one can deny that spiders are master acrobats. As agile creatures, they’re able to move quickly across all types of surfaces and some are even able to jump. Their hydraulic limbs have inspired researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering, and Automation to design limbs for their own spider robot.
The robotic spider not only mimics the legendary speed and agility of its namesake creature, it’s also able to jump. Researchers anticipate that the mechanical arachnid will be able to aid scientists in mapping inaccessible and hard-to-reach places as well as aid in finding trapped survivors of natural disasters.
For something without legs, the snake is remarkably fast. Its elongated body is also able to squeeze into places legged animals would have a hard time fitting into. Two scientific teams across the world from each other have created two robotic snakes that move just like living snakes.
The ACM-R5H, developed by Hbot of Japan, is a modular expandable serpentine robot that can crawl and swim. The Biorobotics Lab of Carnegie Mellon University has developed its own robo-snake, a flexible wonder that can crawl, swim, and climb. Both labs are developing these robots to aid rescue workers in finding people trapped in inaccessible places.
There’s probably nothing in nature that’s able to change direction as quickly as the fish. The reason fishes can change direction so quickly is the flexible structure of their bodies, especially their tail. Fishes sweep their tails from side to side to power their bodies through the water. When a fish wants to change direction, it turns its tail sharply and almost instantly is swimming the opposite way.
Scientists at MIT have developed a soft-bodied robotic fish that’s capable of the rapid motion escape manoeuver of real fish. Powered by carbon dioxide flowing through elastic channels, the robotic fish’s tail is able to bend just like the real thing.
From the racing Wildcat to fast fish, scientists are getting closer to making the robots of science-fiction movies and novels a reality. Is that a good thing? Only time will tell. Until then, find out more about animal robotics here.