Lifelike robots are kind of a gamble. When they’re human-shaped, they’re perpetually at risk of turning out weird. Sometimes they include things called “frubber.” Sometimes they’re a little creepy, probably a lot creepy to the distant celebrity they were modeled after.
Animal robots, though, are pretty much a slam dunk. Any robot made to even vaguely resemble an animal is instantly rendered way more endearing. Check out these dog-like robots, for instance, or these ant-like ones. Not being fully realized animalbots, though, these do have certain drawbacks like lacking heads and stuff. Which is why full-on animal robots are cooler. While you have your more basic animal-shaped robots out there on assignments like helping fight poachers, there’s also a whole host of cutting-edge mechanical animals assisting in various fields of research around the world.
Here are the five coolest/most adorable robotic animals currently making the world a better place:
Look at ’em, blooping around, pushing the boundaries of robotics. This is what the word “mesmerizing” was made for. According to Michael Guelker, a product manager for Festo, the automation firm behind these super rad jellyfish, “we have a whole zoo of bionic animals.”
Another member of Festo’s bionic zoo. This robot is able to recycle energy from one jump and use it to power the next, just like an organic kangaroo.
Of all the cool things you can do with 3D printers, little 3D printed robotic bats have to be way up there. The National Science Foundation backed a grant for these particular mechanical bats so they can do surveillance work for construction sites. The bats are safer, and more energy-efficient, than previously existing surveillance technology.
In the same vein, 3D-printed dragonflies are helping a research team in Shanghai study how basic principles of flight manifest in such a tiny, remote-controlled instrument. 3ders, the team behind the bug bots, has previously worked on mechanical flying fish, butterflies, flies, and cicadas.
Look at this majestic fool. Modeled after chimpanzees, this robot was designed for space missions and can navigate difficult terrain, pick itself up after a fall, and goes by “Charlie.”
Okay, again, not technically “ants,” but these are so cool. And cute.