The Top 8 Robot Stories Of 2013

Will the robots be our friends or our overlords? With robots learning how to love and imagine, the day of reckoning is getting closer.


Robots are coming. This much is certain. The robots we have now are just the first tiny soldiers in an army of automated creatures that are coming. Will the robots be friendly? Or will they enslave us–or simply eliminate us?


Right now, it’s hard to say. For every cute robot that teaches you how to code, there is a galloping, horrifying creation that you can imagine bearing down on you as you attempt to escape your metallic masters.

That said, this last year did bring us two robots who were falling in love and the first steps toward a robot imagination. An imagination that will hopefully bring our kinds closer, and will not simply be used to think of better ways to torture us.

1: These Two Robots Are Very Much In Love

Call it love in the time of automation: a new project makes two very un-human participants deal with the most human of emotions. It doesn’t always go well.

2: These Robots Hunt Jellyfish–And Then Liquify Them With Rotating Blades Of Death


Huge herds of roaming jellyfish are becoming a huge problem in our ocean, causing millions of dollars in damage and injury and death. The JEROS Robot will hunt them down and kill them.

3: This Is The Robot That Will Hunt You When The Machines Make Us Their Slaves

The WildCat, the latest from running robot makers Boston Dynamics, is the stuff of nightmares.

4: This Playful Robot Will Teach A 5-Year-Old To Code

Robots Bo and Yana could help turn today’s kids into a bunch of software engineers. The bigger question: Is programming a fundamental literacy skill for the next generation?


5: Imagine A Robot With An Imagination Of Its Own

Machines now think in very constrained ways. But scientists are trying to instill our robot-friends with a little more abstract thought. Imagine the implications, before they can, too.

6: Kill It With Fire! A Giant Robot Spider Moves Like The Real Thing

More than two dozen motors attached to the legs and abdomen make this robotic spider terrifyingly life-like. Two brothers in Hong Kong “wanted to see how far [they] could take it.”

7: Lay Back And Clean Your House With Swarming Micro Robot Cleaners


The winner of the Electrolux Design contest features these tiny, bug-like robots that will do your chores for you. The future can’t come soon enough.

8: This Robotic Bee Just Took Flight, To Pollinate Crops And (Maybe) Spy On You

The quarter-sized RoboBee looks like a fly, but it was designed to save us from colony collapse disorder. If the bees die, we have a robot backup.

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About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Impact section, formerly Have an idea for a story? You can reach him at mclendaniel [at]