If we’ve learned anything from science fiction, it’s that putting too much faith into robots will only bring about the end of humanity. Our meaty bodies stand no match against the all-powerful, artificially intelligent machinations of the world’s smartest engineers.
But fiction hasn’t stopped the best and brightest from building bots that will someday change how we interact with the world. If these innovative robots are our future overlords, then the not-so-distant future might not be so bleak: these machines are gearing up to make a huge difference…
1. Sophia: Dubbed an Innovation Champion by the United Nations, the social AI that can process speech and have a conversation was given citizenship in Saudi Arabi. This led fellow human citizens to wonder if that meant shutting her down was murder.
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2. Method-2: Enter the heart of this $100 million beast and you’ll be able to control a mech suit that can navigate any terrain, wave its arms like a puppet on a string, and, potentially, maybe, exterminate the human race. It currently lives in a South Korea test facility.
3. BionicAnts: These bots don’t require remote controls. They respond to stimuli and wordlessly communicate with other BionicAnts nearby to complete complex tasks. Now that’s an infestation we can get behind!
4. BigDog: The size of a mule, this military bot built by Boston Dynamics — a Google company — can carry about 100 pounds on its back and cross terrains its wheeled companions couldn’t.
5. CB2: Hoping to understand the potential of artificial intelligence, scientists built this child-like android so that they could teach it language. CB2 understands the contextual meanings behind facial expressions and gestures.
6. BionicFlyingFox: While this robot with an identity crisis (fox? really?) needs help getting off the ground, once it’s in the air, the flyer with a 7-foot wingspan operates autonomously. By recording flight data, it can improve its flight behaviors.
7. Cheetah 3: Even without environmental sensors or cameras, this feline-bot can leap nearly 3 feet into the air, climb stairs, and gallop over rough terrain. Cheetah-print accessories make it one of the more fashionable robots.
8. Actroid-F: Hiroshi Ishiguro of Japan’s Osaka University wanted to create a lifelike android, so he whipped up this blinking, speaking, face-recognizing bot. She can fend off pokes or slaps, meaning she’s about five years out from putting people in headlocks.
9. Spot: The little brother of the BigDog, this bot earned a reputation after video surfaced of engineers kicking it to the ground over and over. Each time, the dog-like bot maneuvered to its feet all by itself!
10. REEM: PAL-robotics created this capable receptionist and tour guide to help guests at malls, airports, or other traffic hubs. Designers probably should’ve given it a mouth if they wanted to make it more approachable.
11. GhostSwimmer: Designed to look like a shark, this robot lets the U.S. Navy scout 300 feet below the water without stuffing soldiers into submarines or putting them in enemy crosshairs.
12. Atlas: Can you do a backflip? Atlas can. The bot can run, too, making it one of the more likely candidates to rise up and take over. Boston Dynamics engineers take pride in its ability to balance and navigate any terrain. Possibilities are endless.
13. Robugtix T8X: Programmed to mimic a spider, this robo-arachnid crawls around on 8 legs and requires a remote control to operate. Unfortunately, it can’t sling web or sense incoming dangers. Maybe in 2030?
David Livingston / YouTube
14. PETMAN: We’ll ignore his less-than-perfect squat technique and celebrate this bot’s capabilities. Able to walk, run, crawl, and sweat, the android soldier can test dangerous equipment and carry out rescue missions in war zones.
15. Spot-Mini: Quieter and smaller than its big brother Spot, this dog can replace your flesh-and-blood pup in the event you for some reason want to cuddle with a mechdog that doesn’t pee on the carpet or need any affection.
16. The Talon: When bullets are flying and bombs are bursting, rescuing wounded soldiers can be a tough task… for humans! This lightweight bot with an arm can drag 700 pounds of dead weight, identify IEDs, and even get involved in combat.
17. Kuratas: Inspired by anime, engineer Kogoro Kurata built this design — a user-operated mech-suit — in 2012. Equipped with multiple weapons, this machine’s good for more than just photo ops.
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18. RHex: Mud, rocks, and dense vegetation stand no chance at stopping this all-terrain machine built by Boston Dynamics. Thanks to a waterproof body, this guy can go pretty much anywhere, making it a bona fide military scout.
19. Asimo: Honda’s humanoid has wowed people since 2000 with an iconic voice and uncanny hand gestures. Quite the brainiac, too, Asimo won an episode of the British quiz show QI back in 2011.
20. LS3: Because it could carry 400 pounds Marines put this autonomous bot capable of understanding voice commands to good use. Sadly it was so loud and super heavy — not exactly ideal qualities on a battlefield — so the LS3 was retired.
21. BionicWheelBot: Festo engineers were enamored with a spider in Morocco that could roll itself into a ball, so they created this bot, which can tuck-and-roll for speed or crawl to navigate tough terrain.
22. WildCat: While it lacks the fashion flair of the Cheetah-3, this feline-bot can get up and go. It set the record for the fastest free running quadrupedal robot at 19.8 mph.
23. Eelume: Deep sea cables can’t repair themselves, so Norwegian engineers cooked up this snakelike robot. Because of its small width, the bot can navigate narrow irrigation tubes humans can’t.
24. Handle: What makes this Boston Dynamics bot stand out is its feet, or rather, its wheels. On top of reaching speeds of 9 MPH, the bot can carry up to 45 pounds and navigate tight spaces.
Robots are leading the way into the not-so-distant future and right alongside them are these incredible inventions that we’re surprised weren’t created sooner…
1. We already have machines to wash and dry our clothes, so why can’t we have a folding device too? The future has arrived. The FoldiMate can fold an entire load of laundry, minus socks and underwear, in just four minutes!
2. You’ve got the power! Don’t panic if your phone reaches 1 percent when you’re nowhere near an outlet. The Epiphany One Puck, the fanciest coaster you’ll ever see, uses energy given off by a hot or cold beverage to put power straight into your personal device.
3. Though it looks like a car, this vehicle more closely resembles a four-wheel bicycle. Its frame and shape allow the driver to traverse any kind of terrain, even snow or rocky hills. It also makes for a great way to spice up your commute.
Facebook / Pod Ride
4. This is the BioBus, a “mobile lavatory'” that turns human waste into fuel. But you probably won’t spot these vehicles on every street corner. They’re more for educational purposes than actual transportation.
5. The average plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose, which is bad news for us. Luckily, scientists are developing all-natural plastics made out of algae. They retain their form while they still hold water, and immediately start to break down once empty.
6. What’s so impressive about this four-story building, you ask? Well, workers constructed it in a single day. Chinese company BROAD is introducing all kinds of eco-friendly innovations, and this quick building model is perhaps their most impressive product.
7. Nobody has time to cook a full breakfast anymore. That’s why people are going crazy for this egg boiler, which cooks a delicious batch of hard-boiled eggs in just a few minutes. It also doesn’t hurt that it looks like a cryogenic chamber from a sci-fi movie!
8. Could flat tires become a thing of the past? Michelin released an airless tire that can easily drive over bumps and curbs, and it will never lose its firmness. They haven’t debuted a version for automobiles yet, but it’s likely only a matter of time.
9. Old-fashioned steel horseshoes will wear out the animal’s joints over time. Fortunately, plastic alternatives have hit the market, and these products make for much easier removal. Soon, we’ll only use metal horseshoes for the lawn game.
10. If you live in a cramped apartment, this product could be a godsend. Laid horizontally, the surface functions as a perfect ironing board. Flipped 90 degrees, however, it turns into a full-length mirror!
11. This is not your normal vending machine. This state-of-the-art pizza automat will bake a fresh personal pizza of your choosing, all in a mere two and a half minutes. You can hum ‘That’s Amore’ to yourself while you wait!
Reddit / mugentsu
12. Ever mix up your luggage with a stranger’s at the airport? That problem will become a thing of the past once you get a custom suitcase with your face printed across the front. Nobody will ever mistakenly grab your bag again — unless you have an identical twin.
13. Plenty of pooches hate going out in bad weather. However, they don’t even have to know that it’s raining cats and dogs outside thanks to this inverted pet umbrella. It might not keep you dry, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
14. We’ve been dripping liquid down the sides of our cups since the dawn of time. Who knew the solution was so simple? This drip-proof cup protects your table with a groove along the base, which will collect any drops of coffee or tea.
15. Oftentimes, innovation isn’t about coming up with a new idea; it’s about combining two previously unrelated ideas. These genius librarians gave students a healthy way to study by hooking up their computers to treadmills!
16. Goldfish fans shouldn’t feel jealous that dog owners get all the fun of toting their pet around town. Thanks to this portable aquarium, you can bring your fishy friend to work, to the mall, or to a sushi restaurant! Actually, that last one might make the fish uncomfortable.
17. The traditional spork sounds good in theory but makes for a frustrating meal chock full of dropped food. This spoon-fork hybrid, on the other hand, truly offers the best of both worlds. You can have your cake and eat it, too, and then have some soup!
Reddit / MarshieMon
18. Why fight a fire up close when there are safer (and more fun) options available? These fire extinguisher grenades can put out most infernos in the blink of an eye. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use one, but it does look like a pretty good time!
19. Are you one of those people who always has to run to the bathroom during a movie? Meet your dream theater. They equipped their bathroom stalls with monitors so that you’ll never miss an important scene ever again.
Imgur / mugentsu
20. Camping in a tent is so old-school. This specialized air mattress transforms the back of your car into a comfy bed. You’ll sleep soundly in there, plus you’ve got temperature control and access to all your music.