3 New Robots You Should Be Aware Of

January 5, 2015

Robots are everywhere these days, from your social media to chain restaurants. (There’s also a bunch of them in our new book, Robotica.)

RobotsDeadly Love Bot

TGI Friday’s tries to create a fun atmosphere for its customers and this holiday season brought in the mistletoe to encourage people to kiss. That mistletoe was carried by two radio-controlled mini-drones. Ostensibly controlled by a human (they aren’t left to be autonomous for long stretches of time, like aerial drones), they buzzed around a Brooklyn TGI Friday’s without incident until a reporter and photographer from the Brooklyn Courier showed up. That’s when one of the mistletoe-toting robots lost control, spun out of control, and chipped off the tip of a nose of the Courier photographer, causing her to bleed profusely for a few minutes.

Image Saving Bot

Who knew that artificial intelligence could save us humans from doing something stupid? A robot is any computerized machine programmed by a human to execute a specific set of tasks. It doesn’t have to even be a physical entity, it can be a software program, like the many “bots” that drive online traffic. It’s that kind of robot that Facebook has announced that it may soon employ. Using an algorithm called “deep learning,” in which the robot recognizes a human’s patterns, and what’s not a part of that pattern, the bot will analyze a Facebook user’s upload and warn you if you want to post it, say, anything posted after 2 a.m., or what it recognizing as a candid, embarrassing photograph.

Ice, Ice, Robot

The Antarctic sea ice is a tricky thing for scientists to investigate—they don’t want to break it, or contaminate the delicate ecosystem. The previous ways were a little crude: a boat would be smashed into the ice, and then a hole would be drilled down, and a measuring tape inserted. The solution: a robot. A joint team of Australian, American, and British scientists used a robot called an autonomous underwater vehicle (and AUJ), which would be dropped into the frigid waters, and be programmed to swim to three regions and collect data. And that robot has revealed that the ice is not quite as fragile as once thought. Previous studies indicated that the ice sheet is an average of 1 meter thick, with some places as much as 10 meters. The robot has found that the ice sheet is 3 meters thick on average, and as much as 16 meters in some spots.