Military robots are in the news today, with the BBC reporting six deaths in Pakistan, allegedly caused by a missile strike from a US unmanned aircraft, or drone. We’re going to see a lot more of this. The military robot sector is booming and well funded through the USA’s $145bn Future Combat Systems (FCS) programme. Robots (the name derives from the Czech vobota, for forced labour) are seen as battlefield lifesavers, which doubtless they are for the side that controls them.
On a lighter robotic note, cuddly dinosaur robot Pleo continues to wow pundits with its cuteness and personality capability – tested here, while in Japan, this unicycle riding robot demonstrated state of the art balance. Balance, particularly in pseudo-human robots with legs, is one of the big challenges for robot engineers. Maybe the solution is to double up on the legs, as in this slightly disturbing clip of Boston Dynamics ‘Big Dog’.
Update Feb 2011 – Latest on Boston Dynamics
Update 1 March 2013 – Big Dog gets an arm (BBC News)