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A Review of the Best Robots of 2008

Robot innovation continued its relentless advances during 2008. In this post we would like to showcase some of our favorite robots and robot videos of the last year or so.  This review is heavily slanted to consumer robots and research robots.  Perhaps in the future we can do a review of industrial robots.  Given the sheer number of robots that are out there we know there will be several excellent robots that we have overlooked in this review.  If you know of any really awesome robots or robot videos that we have missed please let us know and we will consider adding them to this post.  So without further delay, lets take a look at some of the best robots and robot videos of 2008 (maybe some are from 2007 too), broken down by category:

Soccer:

Check out this impressive video of the 12th Kondo Cup Robotic Soccer competition:

Humanoid:

Earlier we reviewed the nao robot from Aldebaran Robotics here at the hub and this robot is just totally awesome.  The nao robot is the official robot for this year’s robocup in China:

The I-Sobot is an incredible humanoid robot.  This is one of the smallest bipedal robots out there, with a height of only 6.5 inches and a weight of only 12 ounces.  The I-Sobot is the winner of the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) “Robot of 2008″ award.  Most amazing is that this robot costs less than $300.  Such sophistication in a consumer robot at such a low price speaks volumes about the progress being made in robotics.  The I-Sobot people needs to talk to the Nao robot people about how to make awesome marketing videos.  It is really hard to find videos that do justice to this amazing robot.   Anyway, here are the best videos we could find:

Self Assembly

The ISI Polymorphic Robotics Laboratory at USC has a fantastic robot called the Superbot that is capable of numerous modes of motion and is made of several autonomous units that can be manually assembled or sometimes automatically self assembled.  Excellent videos below:

Below is a video of a self healing robotic chair. This robot isn’t very useful, but the concept of a robot that can be broken to pieces and then reassemble itself in this fashion has wide potential:

Rugged Terrain

Boston Dynamics makes some of the best robots in the world for traversing rugged terrain.  Watch the video below and see how this amazing quadraped called “Big Dog” can go up hills with rocks and mud and anything else in its path.  The best part is about 30 seconds into the video where someone kicks the walking robot as hard has possible.  The robot is able to maitain balance and continue walking much better than a human could do.  The robot is capable of carrying over 300 lbs of cargo and would seem to be useful for army missions, planetary exploration, and several other situations:

Ornithopters

An ornithopter is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings.  Check out this awesome slow motion video of a butterfly ornithopter in action:

Also, check out what is one of the smallest ornithopters around.  The Ifly Vamp in retail stores for less than $40:

I can’t read japanese, but these guys seem to have some pretty amazing stuff:

http://blog.goo.ne.jp/flappingwing

Music

Check out this robot playing the violin:

And this one playing the flute:

Exoskeleton:

Impressive exoskeleton suit called the HAL (Human Assisted Limbs) increases a human’s strength by 5 times:

Update: A worthy addition to this list is the anybot:

Update: Check out this recent post on humanoid robots

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