Welcome to yet another installment of Robots Everywhere, a show where we record the slow but steady takeover of our future robot overlords and show how they find their way into virtually every facet of modern life. In this episode, we take a look at robots modeled after the animal kingdom, from machines that mimic the appearance of our pets to robots that are inspired by certain parts of animals.
The German company Festo is a leading manufacturer of robots that are inspired by certain parts of animals. For example, the company’s “bionic handling assistant”
Sony created Aibo, a robot dog that won’t poop, chew on your shoes, or mess around the house. There is also Tombot, which is intended as a companion for the elderly. In fact, there are quite a number of pets to choose from right now – from dogs to cats to seals.
There are also robots that are animatronic replicas of real animals. These are used in movies, TV shows, theme parks, and even as research tools in the wild. Scientists were able to use robotic gorillas, dogs, and turtles to study animals in their own environment and get close-up views of wildlife.
After all, we have robots that are based on animals but are not meant to look like the animals they are based on, like Boston Dynamics’ famous canine spot robot that can do anything from climbing stairs to dancing to Bruno Mars. This category of animal robots also includes MIT’s cheetah bot, an ostrich-like walker robot from Agility Robotics, and an amazing kangaroo robot from Festo.
While the robot animal kingdom is not quite as diverse as the real animal kingdom, harnessing the animal kingdom’s looks and movements has sparked some important and exciting advances in robotics, and will continue to do so in the future.