Robots That Jump

Robot Bodies Needed Before Robot Minds

Monthly Archives: July 2014

Bionic trunks and robotic food

An example of an unconventional robot motion system from a very interesting company, Festo.

http://www.festo.com

This mechanical version of an elephant’s trunk (or octopus tentacle) could change how robots are used.

http://www.roboticstrends.com/industry_manufacturing/article/bionic_elephant_trunk_brings_dexterity_to_industrial_robots

This same company is experimenting with a robotic kangaroo, whose leg mechanism can recover energy during hops like a real kangaroo.

 http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/13704.htm

Finally, their eSpheres project tries to implement a clould of gnats, which circle in a defined space of air without colliding:

http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/13705.htm

These are very interesting projects, though they also lead to creepy future visions of robot gnat drone swarms annoying us, possibly even including man-machine music from our fave robot band, Kraftwerk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oru45yldyvE

Also, the drone swarms might not just circle, but fly like birds…liike those seen in the COLLMOT Robotic Research Project:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/26/283090909/robot-swarm-a-flock-of-drones-that-fly-autonomously

Meanwhile, the non-jump robots advance in triumph everywhere, in people’s minds if not completely in reality. Here’s an update of the “Robot Nation” argument posted by Marshall Brain a decade ago on the end of fast food jobs.

http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/22/technology/innovation/fast-food-robot/

Obviously, the CNN journalists (sic) didn’t know and/or mention this work.

http://marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm

A companion article on Brain’s site discusses Robots in 2015. Since this was written a decade ago, it will soon be possible to test prediction vs reality in this case. Brain suggested that it might be hard to create true Robots that Jump, and suggested an intermediate state was a undereducated dumbass with a headset strapped on, ordering them to do “agile” things in the fast-food kitchen and bathroom. This would allow automation of the business model (e.g. a central computer treating all the fast food places as a gigantic machine) while cheaply automating the parts that are hard for robots to do.

As usual, things are being oversold. After all, food automats have been around for a long while, but we don’t automatically glom onto their machine-like method of food delivery. But we assume that people will want the high-tech version of fast food because, it’s well, “progress.”

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