Robots in movies are usually clever, cute, and friendly. But for decades, real-life robots have been basically awkward, clumsy, and really not-so-smart hunks of metal. That’s drastically changed in the last two to three years, as both robot hardware and AI software have improved by leaps and bounds. This year, we’ve seen robots do all kinds of things that were previously the realm of sci-fi.
Some are assisting us mere humans at all kinds of mundane tasks, such as making pancakes, folding laundry, forming new habits, and finding beer pong buddies. Others are extending human capabilities, especially in the area of prosthetics (see this drummer who plays better with his new robot hand than his original one) and surgery. Still, others are all-out replacing what humans do: Today, robots can be security guards, bus drivers, farmers, and journalists–and they haven’t hit their limit yet.
These advances have huge implications for the economy. But at a more individual level, the robot revolution is bringing a number of questions about how we will interact with our new overlords. Will they be friendly? Or mean? Can we trust robots? Or, as one crazy experiment with a hitchhiking robot asked, can robots trust us? (Judging by the results, probably not.)
The K5 never tires on patrols and only costs $6.25 an hour. But at least it’s not armed—for now.
To stick with a new challenge and really change your life, you’re going to need more than cold data of a fitness tracker or smartphone app.
A re-rack isn’t going to help you now, silly humans.
Understanding how to flip a pancake isn’t as obvious as it seems—if you’re a machine.
5: Hitchbot, The Hitchhiking Robot, Meets Its Untimely Demise At The Hands Of An Angry Human
After successful trips through other, friendlier countries, the adorable robot that requires the help of humans to get to his destination found a human who didn’t want to help.
If coding really is the new literacy, you’re going to want to start your kid early.
Sick cyborg beats.
8: Meet The Robots That Are Taking Over Japan
At this pace, the country’s robot population is going to outnumber people.
9: Robot Buses Are Coming To America, To Pave The Way For Driverless Cars
First, a quiet business park. Next, the world.
It’s mesmerizing to watch this surgical device work with such precision, but what does that precision get you?
Why plant one tree when a drone can shoot pre-germinated seed pods at the ground without you lifting a finger?
Starfish eat reefs. We need reefs. So we must eliminate the starfish.
This massive Japanese vegetable factory saves water and energy—along with human labor.
Too bad it’ll take the robot longer to fold your shirt than it’ll take you to fold the whole bag.