We have been using animals and their products for centuries. Horses and oxes, honey, eggs… Now, in the 21st century, we became more than just users: we became creators. A few years ago we made kevlar, a super-strong material used in bulletproof vests, from spider web fibers. Now we are making animal robots: stingrays, cheetahs, dogs or birds. They are quite cool, pretty advanced, although sometimes pretty creepy. See them in action below!
1) A bio-hybrid stingyray
Made from genetically engineered heart tissue, this stingyray that can swim paves the way for artificial animals of the future. It could also help significantly in the creation of artificial hearts.
2) Cheetah animal robot
When crossing rough terrain, be it mountain paths or stairs, having legs is an advantage over wheels. The reason why we don’t have robot horses to ride yet though is the fact that to make a robot walk reliably and naturally is very, very difficult, even on four legs instead of two. The animals’ bodies have been evolving for millions of years and we are trying to do the same in just a few years. It’s hard being a creator. That being said, we are slowly starting to see some progress thanks to researchers at MIT. Watch this cheetah robot in action!
I can’t wait until robots like this one chase me through the woods one day. It’s gonna be a lot of fun!
3) Phone-controlled bird robot
Why play with models of airplanes when you can fly a bird instead? This super-light robot is capable of flying up to 100 metres away from you for 10 minutes without recharge, and as the inventor said “If you’re lucky, real birds come play with you”. You can get one on Amazon.
4) Robotic dogfight
This small furry guy is apparently not happy with the new animal robots! We hope they get along after some time. Notice that the guy is controlling the robot with just an Xbox controller.
5) U.S. Army Robotic Mule Project
In Virginia, USA, soldiers tested a four-legged robot designed for carrying heavy load on rough terrain.
It was developed by Boston Dynamics and DARPA under the code name AlphaDog. In my opinion, the robot is quite big and cumbersome for a dog, so I would rather name it AlphaCow or AlphaMule.
The robot could carry tens of kilograms, which definitely took a lot of weight from soldiers’ backs. Its walking capability was also quite impressive. Unfortunately, the project’s funding was stopped, probably because it was horribly loud, as you can hear in the following video.