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Robotics Hardware

The Best Robots of 2009 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-show dept.
kkleiner writes "Singularity Hub has just unveiled its second annual roundup of the best robots of the year. In 2009 robots continued their advance towards world domination with several impressive breakouts in areas such as walking, automation, and agility, while still lacking in adaptability and reasoning ability. It will be several years until robots can gain the artificial intelligence that will truly make them remarkable, but in the meantime they are still pretty awesome."
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The Best Robots of 2009

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  • Evolution (2001) (Score:1, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    In the movie Evolution with David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, the Earth was "seeded" by alien life forms. What happened next was an evolutionary explosion with the alien life mutating at a rate far beyond the rate of normal Earth life. Things like primates and birds and even dinosaur-ish creatures developed and proliferated.

    However, in the race for evolutionary supremacy, it wasn't these super-advanced life forms that finally won out. Rather it was the amorphous blob which did little except consume and grow

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shentino (1139071)

      I'd say that germs flourish because they worry just about sustenance, whereas us humans are always fighting and warring and generally trying to succeed by making everyone else fail.

      • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:22PM (#30541452)
        That's retarded. Germs devour and destroy each other as much or more than humans do. The difference is that germs are cheaper and faster to reproduce. Germs can go through several generations over the course of a week, so they're able to evolve much more quickly than larger animals and fill ecological niches more quickly and more efficiently. In addition, their population can explode over a very short time period. This means that when they find a resource they can exploit, they exploit it quickly and completely.

        Forget the bullshit ideal that nature is loving and humans are brutal and warlike. Wherever there's a resource shortage there's fighting, whether it's humans or animals. The only difference is that humans can moderate it more effectively and then feel bad about it afterwards.
        • by shentino (1139071)

          My point was that germs (and, well, animals in general) do it for survival.

          Humans do it for sheer domination.

          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            No, humans do it for resources...

            Almost every single war ever fought was due to resources.

            • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              No, humans do it for resources...

              Almost every single war ever fought was due to resources.

              Right! It you can oppress or destroy a religious group, race, or nationality WHILE you take their shit, well that's just a bonus.

              • Well, it's just the war of memes which feels much like viruses and bacteria, entirely cut-throat, utilizing the biological systems of other organisms. Some buck the trend to work together eventually forming multi-cellular creatures (societies).

                Wee! Fractals!

              • by shentino (1139071)

                Which is what I was getting at.

                If there wasn't a resource shortage, humans would still fight.

          • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:10AM (#30541896) Journal

            My point was that germs (and, well, animals in general) do it for survival.

            Humans do it for sheer domination.

            Yes, domination of resources and territory that allow the individual and his tribe to prosper. Groups of humans work with each other to out survive other groups of humans working with each other, just like any other animal [youtube.com]. This behavioural pattern (instinct) to form competing tribes is found everywhere in nature from bacterial colonies to moon landings. The instinct "just is", it is neither good nor evil as it's responsible for bullets from an enemy, bandages from a friend and, no condoms from the pope's tribe.

            IMHO the most remarkable thing about modern homo-sapiens is that an individual can belong to multiple tribes simultaneously. To my mind this very recent evolutional trait is what makes us unique.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by TapeCutter (624760) *
              s evolutional/evolutionary.
            • by radtea (464814)

              To my mind this very recent evolutional trait is what makes us unique.

              If by "very recent" you mean "sometime in the past million years" you would be correct. Humans practice exogamy (mating outside our kin group) much more aggressively than other social primates, and this is the basis of our remarkable social flexibility.

              Troops of humans have rich structure as well, as do troops of other social primates, such as chimps and bonobos, although we don't know nearly as much about them because we are killing the

        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          FWIW, some bacteria can divide about every 20 minutes given enough nutrients. Add a high mutation rate and you can see what our immune system is up against.

  • Player Project (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xzvf (924443) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:35PM (#30541282)
    Support this: http://playerstage.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] So we don't have to fight the closed systems like we did with the PC. Really, robotics is going through its early DIY stage, where most interesting stuff is built by hand using lots of modified parts. Anything we can do, as it moves into mainstream products, to keep the DIY rights to open the hardware and change the software if we want, helps our future freedom.
  • I love each and every robot most of all!

    • by iqeaten (961308)
      So do I. This is pretty awesome. I have a real question for anyone out there who 'knows' about these things. What would I have to learn to be able to design one of these? What kind of education? What kind of technology?
  • see why factory workers should be terrified for their job security.

    Actually, it's marvellous material to be showed to reluctant teens. Seeing that manual labour will most probably disappear in the next decades could help some of them...And you know what they say...if only one is saved ,the whole process would be worth it(Of course they will not take into account the others that will just loose faith in humanity).

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      manual labour will most probably disappear in the next decades

      Technically, it should, politically and in actuality you will see more.

      Unionized, government street sweepers won't stand for mechanical sweepers that take their jobs.

      There will be laws against robots - the reasons will be because they are not "green", or they are not "safe", or whatever.
      • Progressive thinking (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:52AM (#30542286) Journal
        "Unionized, government street sweepers won't stand for mechanical sweepers that take their jobs."

        Belive me the guy driving a street sweeper would defenitely prefer to be designing them.

        The industrial revolution's success is based on the premise that automation allows society to progress. OTOH, it's basic failure is the current tradgedy of the commons. At fifty I have lost several jobs due to technology/social changes but I've made a good living from changing things with technology, and however small it may be I am changing society with this post.

        The last time I was on a factory floor was the 80's, which in itself was quite a step up the food chain from a twenty-something "trailer park" day labourer with a wife and a kid. I recall reading at the time that the UK "metal workers(?)" union after months of fruitless negotiating had put a work ban on qualified fitters and turners performing any task that took less than X minutes to cycle (such as the metal press I was working in Australia). Their rationale was that any task that was that repetitive could be performed using a "one of a kind machine" by the same fitters and turners. This kind of thinking used to be called progressive [wikipedia.org], regardless of who it comes from.

        Unions, Government and Big business (UGB) are all nessacary evils unless you can find somewhere to chase furry things with a stick and not be noticed, although don't expect to live much past your next severe tooth/throat/lung infection. When two or more of the "tribes" in UGB start swinging at each other the little guy is invariably trodden on in all the commotion. Yet like the abusive "parents" that they are, they will all tell you they love you dearly, it's the other parent who want's to, as Bill Cosby would once put it; "shoot you in the face with a bazzoka".

        "This is where the problems begin. Like a fragile naked human pyramid, we are simultaneously supporting and resenting each other. We bitch out loud about our soul-sucking job as an anonymous face on an assembly line, while at the exact same time riding in a car that only an assembly line could have produced. It's a constant contradiction that has left us pissed off and joining informal wrestling clubs in basements." - David Wong, "The Monkeyshere" [cracked.com].
      • by radtea (464814)

        There will be laws against robots

        And those laws will work as well as all the other laws that tried to hold back technological improvements in productivity. You can tell how well those laws worked by noticing the number of garments you're wearing that were manufactured on a hand loom.

  • Ok, I want one. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iron spartan (1192553) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:02AM (#30541878)

    The Adept Quatro was very impressive. I'd love to see the vision system that it was using and will have to show that vid to my employer to see if I can get them to buy one.

    If there is a breakthrough in portable power generation, then we will see an explosion in mobile robotics development.

  • Whatever happened to the Cool Robot of the Week site? It hasn't been updated in years.
    • Annual??? (Score:3, Funny)

      by GradiusCVK (1017360)

      Whatever happened to the Cool Robot of the Week site?

      For that matter, why is the Singularity Hub engaging in an annual roundup of the best robots of the year? Wouldn't they argue such a roundup would only be useful on an exponentially accelerating schedule or something? You'd think they'd practice what they preach...

  • Looks like I'll be working alone for quite a while yet.

  • "It will be several years until robots can gain the artificial intelligence that will truly make them remarkable,"

    No, really? Where have we heard this before? I don't think that anyone was under delusions that robots were really going to become self-aware this year.
  • The cockroach robot “dash” is so much better suited for military deployment than the “mini tractor” trat irobot made. And it being made cheaply out of cardboard (and folded flat) means you can afford to release 1000’s of them, and, basically don’t need any human troops on the ground.

    http://singularityhub.com/2009/12/22/a-review-of-the-best-robots-of-2009/comment-page-1/#comment-11906 [singularityhub.com]

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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