Let’s be honest, few things are cooler than robots, and 2013 has been an excellent year in the advancement of robotics thus far. Boston Dynamics designed the Atlas robot, a 6-foot-2 humanoid robot built for emergency response and disaster zones. Europe approved the first robot as a medical device, and a Colorado teenager designed a 3D printed robot arm that amputees can control wirelessly with a headband.
Those inventions are designed be useful. However, there are many more that seem to be built simply to inspire a collective “wtf?” And we don’t mean defects, like the hilarious malfunctioning of Honda’s ASIMO robot at a recent demonstration. Some robots seem too crazy to even believe. To prove our point, here are some of the coolest, strangest and most-ridiculous robots out there now.
1. Headless Monkey Bot – Cool and Creepy
Like the Atlas, RoboSimian was built to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which called for strong, dexterous and flexible robots that could aid in disaster zones. As the name implies, RoboSimian is less humanoid than Atlas and more monkey-like. The RoboSimian robot was built by the Jet Propulsion Lab at NASA.
RoboSimian is a pretty cool robot, as it’s designed to save lives. But it just looks creepy, especially because it doesn’t have a head.
2. Corporate Party Bot – Crazy
The Coca-Cola Summer Festival is one of the year’s most popular events for Israeli teenages, but some can’t make it. This year, Coca-Cola had a solution: a robot that can attend the concert for you.
The Social Robot is controlled online and rolls around on a wheel system that resembles a Segway. It has a webcam for the controller to see what’s happening and two-way audio so he or she can chat up other party-goers.
Supposedly designed for sick, injured and possibly grounded teens, this robot seems like it would be perfect for boys to creep out girls at a concert. Definitely creepy.
3. Italian Vacation Bot – Cool
Italian mineral water company San Pellegrino designed a robot to give people a three-minute tour of Italy. The team of five robots, designed by Ogilvy & Mather in New York, can be controlled to move down the streets of Taormino, Italy, by Sa Pellegrino’s Facebook fans.
In addition to controlling the robots, users can talk to residents using the two-way audio. The robot has a translation function, so no Italian is necessary!
A human San Pellegrino employee accompanies the robots, keeping them from doing anything creepy.
4. Vincent Van Bot – Cool
The University of Konstanz in Germany has developed e-David, a robotic painter capable of creating one-of-a-kind paintings. The robot takes a photograph and then develops a unique set of brush strokes to recreate the image with paint. e-David can use five different brushes and 24 different colors and can even sign the painting when it’s done.
Some of paintings look pretty cool, and the developers say the robot is helping researchers learn more about the techniques artists use.
5. Giant Smoke Breathing Beetle Bot – Crazy
To be honest, we’re not sure what exactly is going on here. This Japanese robot is apparently 11 meters long, and it doesn’t seem capable of doing much more than move back and forth, and occasionally blow smoke. At least, we think the smoke is intentional and not the result of an exploding engine. It would be impossible to rank the Kabutom RX-03 as anything other than crazy.
6. Twerk Bot – Creepy
There’s no mistaking what inspired this device, known as Shiri. This robuttocks doesn’t even seem to do anything besides … flex. It’s weird, it’s certainly creepy, and it's actually sort of terrifying. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes self-aware and learns to twerk its way toward the enslavement of the human race.
7. Animal-Inspired Bots – Cool, Creepy and Crazy
Wired published a list of 12 robots inspired by the animal kingdom. You can check out the full article, but here are some highlights (not counting the Robuttocks, which definitely deserves a category of its own).
For the cool category, there is the latest edition of the BigDog and RoboMule line of robots. These robotst were designed to transport heavy deliveries over rough terrain. The latest editions cannot only carry more weight for a farther distance, but they can stand up after lying down, follow voice commands, and pick up and throw heavy objects.
The creepiest is the SnakeBot, developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Not only can it grab onto seemingly any object by coiling around it like a snake strangling its prey, but it can also mimic all of the slithering, sidewinding and corkscrewing motions of a real snake. Snakebot can swim -- and even climb up your leg.
And leave it to fashion to find a way to create a crazy, spider-inspired robot. A Dutch designer and Austrian software developer joined together to create the Robotic Spider Dress. The Spiderbot uses sensors and robotic legs to keep other people away, so this crazy dress would not be ideal for bars, nightclubs, award shows or really any occasion.
What do you think about these cool, creepy and crazy robots? Have you seen others that beat these? Let us know in the comments section.