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Robots in 2014: the six most exciting robots of the past year

Nick Barber | Jan. 2, 2015
Robots are not looking to take over, but to work alongside us; making our jobs and lives easier, or at least more entertaining. We'll take a closer look in our 2014 robot review.

The moon's a very cold place, there's a lot f uncertainty about what the surface is like, especially in the polar regions. We don't know if it's incredibly soft or hard. We do know that it's very rough and so one of the challenges for us is making robots that can handle rough terrain.

Once on the moon KRex will look for hydrogen beneath the surface. The rover has four wheels that are each individually powered and steered allowing it to navigate the rocky lunar surface.

Like space, the dangerous battlefield also lends itself to robotics. This year, the LS3 from Google owned Boston Dynamics took a step forward and was tested out by five US marines in a training exercise in Hawaii. The robotic mule can traverse rough terrain while carrying much of the Marine's load. That means less fatigue for the men and women on the battlefield, but the robot doesn't have much stealth. It's loud gasoline powered engine lends itself to be used for logistical operations rather than tactical ones.

Best robots 2014: iBotlr
If you check in to one Silicon Valley hotel you might just end up with a robotic butler.The robot bellhop is being tested at one hotel that may be expanded if successful.

So a guest would call down and maybe they need a razor or toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. and the associate at the front desk will be able to send the robot. In our case called the botlr, up to the guest room to deliver that amenity.

Called Botlr (BOT-ler), it uses Wifi to call elevators and request the floor it needs to go to. The robot travels at about two miles an hour and can carry up to 10 lbs. Botlr can last up to 4 hours on a full battery charge and goes into a charging station in between runs.

If robots were to take over the world, they'd need to first master ping pong. But this robot from Omron wasn't made to beat humans, but to play along with them. The object here is to get a good volley going. The robot uses computer vision and algorithms to figure out where the ball will end up and positions its paddle accordingly. In tests according to the company, the nearly 3 meter tall robot could volley the ball 100 times without missing. This robot won't be commercialized, but some of the technology is already found in factory robots.

And that's our 2014 Robot Review.


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