Transformers among us: Five robots with crazy new abilities


There’s no testament to human ingenuity like a good robot. We love to report on cool new robots, whether they’re teaching kids English or roaming the halls of CES. In celebration of the robotic carnage that is Transformers: Dark of the Moon, we bring you five new robots with some seriously cool abilities. We’ve got everything from a bot that makes pancakes, to a love doll that now teaches dentists how to drill, to a team of robots that work together to solve problems in disaster situations. Though they will one day enslave and rule us all, for now it’s just plain fun to see what we can teach our metallic allies.

Lego Pancake Bot

To start out on a fun note, one man has constructed a CNC machine made entirely out of Lego Mindstorms, Lego bricks, and two ketchup bottles. Made to entertain his daughter, the machine can create pancakes of any design with a high degree of accuracy. In this video, you can see it create some delicious Mickey Mouse ears (via Gizmodo).

Love Doll becomes a dentist bot

This love doll has been transformed into a robot dental patient that reacts to the cleaning and procedures of dental students. It blinks and flinches in pain much like a real patient might. It can sneeze, shake its head, cough, gag, and close its mouth when its jaw starts to ache. More creepy, it can actually carry out basic conversations with the dentist in training, reports New Scientist. And like a good video game, when you’re done cleaning this robot’s mouth, it will give you feedback and a score.

A robot with skin

No, we haven’t quite learned how to graft actual skin onto robots, but researchers have developed the next best thing, a series of sensors that simulate the job of skin. Called the Boiloid Robot, Science Daily reports that this little guy has 31 hexagonal sensor modules on its body, which measure temperature, touch, and speed. These sensors supplement the robots camera eyes, infrared scanners, and gripping hands. Much like Steve Wozniak predicted in his somewhat creepy MSU commencement speech a month or so ago, this robot can now learn from its environment and fully interact, much like we do. Imagine if a robot knew when you tapped it on the shoulder or could feel the humidity on a hot summer day.


Robots that can talk to each other

University of Delaware researchers are working on a team of robots that can actually understand human language and communicate with one another, reports Live Science. These types of robots would be incredibly useful in dangerous situations where humans cannot go, like a disaster area. By communicating with one another, they can solve problems without the need for humans to control them. Don’t expect them to form into evil and good factions too soon though; these robots aren’t completely autonomous. When deployed, each robot would have its own set of abilities and they’d work together using each others special skills to accomplish their mission.

Paul: a robot that can draw what it sees

We know robots can print things on paper, but this robot takes it a step further. Using a camera, it can look at a person’s face and then sketch what it sees on a piece of paper, with an actual pen. We’re not quite sure on its methods (they don’t teach this technique in art school), but the end result wasn’t half bad for a one-armed robot. We can only imagine what would happen if you gave this guy a box of crayons.

Many more…

Robotic advancements seem to happen every day. While some seem to point toward the end of society as we know it, others look like us, and some are just plain cool. Hopefully when we finally create an actual transformer it will turn out more like Optimus Prime than Megatron.

Oh, and before we go, here is one last video. This is not an actual robot, but it is quite possibly the closest a human has ever come to becoming an actual Autobot. Did I mention that he can dance?