14 Advanced Robots With Extraordinary Skills

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a very complex subject. We don’t really know what to expect when AI is finally here. We all have seen in the sci-fi movies that robots running on AI think themselves vastly superior to the humans. The most of the part seems true because even human don’t know what they are building, what it is capable to learn and what are the consequences. It’s a small warning about the danger of human hubris, but that doesn’t stop us from exploring.

The curiosity of what we can do is the main reason why we continue to experiment and develop terrifying technologies. We are presenting a few advanced robots that are designed to learn and perform specific tasks. Have a look…

14. Robotic ants

festo robotic ant

These small robots (called bionicants, created by FESTO) mimic the behavior of real ants. They act autonomously, but communicate with each other to complete a complex task.

The special 3d printed design combines aesthetics and functions. They have built-in antennae to connect to the charging station. The motors in the legs use piezo-ceramic technology, which allows them to use a small amount of energy to bend quickly and precisely. A mouse censor, a compass and two cameras help the ant to determine its position. They will be capable of accomplishing big tasks in the future.

13. Flying Robot that also Walks

This is a bio-inspired robot, named DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), after its inventor Ludovic Daler. It uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat. It is being developed to be used in search and rescue operations, search large spaces in short timespan and walk into inaccessible and dangerous locations.

The wings are made of soft fabric and use foldable skeleton mechanism so they can be used both as wings and legs. It can fly with the maximum speed of 72 km/h and crawl at 6 centimeters per second when it hits the ground. At present, DALER needs a bit of push to take off, but in future the robot will do this on its own.

Read: 10 Coolest Robot Designs

12. The Cubli

An enhanced cube (with momentum wheels, gears, motors and batteries) that can jump, balance itself and walk across your desk. Some researchers used this method of locomotion for planetary explorations while others are using it for self-assembling robots.

There are many ways to keep a cube balance on its axis, but jumping and walking requires a sudden release of energy. That’s what momentum wheels used for – to store enough energy while still keeping the cube compact and self-contained. It can also be used to implement a reaction-torque based control programs for balancing the body when wheels are accelerated or decelerated.

11. Robotic Cockroach

The United States army has funded a project which developed a cockroach-inspired robot. The University of California, Berkeley made an intelligent robot without additional sensors and software. It is a six-legged, tiny robot that can squeeze through tight spaces and avoid obstacles.

The researchers tested this robot with 3 different shapes – flat oval, oval cone and rectangular. They found that the rounded shells make it easy to fit neatly through and around obstacles without using extra sensors. The research team is now thinking of future robot that can change its shape on demand to better suit the type of obstacle it’s facing.

10. Tiny Wall Climbing Robot

The little robot can climb vertical walls with 100 times heavier weight strapped behind it. The super bot is built by mechanical engineers at Stanford University in California.

The gecko-inspired robot carries adhesives on its feet, which is covered with rubber spikes that grip gently onto the vertical wall as the robot climbs. The spikes bend when pressure is applied, increasing their surface areas and thus the stickiness. These spikes then straighten out and detach easily when robot picks its foot back up. The most impressive is μTug (weighs 12 grams), which can pull 2000 times heavier weight. In future, these kinds of machines could be useful for lifting heavy things in factories or on construction sites.

9. RoboBee

RoboBee is a tiny robot inspired by the biology of bee and insect’s hive behavior. It is developed by the research robotic team at Harvard University. It is capable of tethered flight using artificial muscles that can beat wings 120 times per second. It is currently the smallest man-made device (3cm wingspan) modeled on insects to achieve flight.

The aim is to develop a complete autonomous swarm of flying robots for applications like artificial pollination, search and rescue. The power is supplied through a small, thin tether. To make this project feasible, researchers need to figure out the wireless power solution and decision making functions.

8. Robot Spider

This is a bio-inspired robot that uses a total of 26 servo motors, powered by Bigfoot Inverse Kinematics Engine. It is capable of handling all math calculations necessary for controlling multi-legged walking robot. However, it is not completely automatic – you need to send instruction (via wireless remote), for example, walk forward at particular speed, and the machine will take care of all small details like leg trajectory planning, inverse kinematics, motor control and leg coordination.

7. Pepper: The Emotional Robot

PepperSource: aldebaran

Pepper is designed to read emotions, recognize tones of voice and facial expression in order to interact or live with humans. It is developed by SoftBank Mobile, one of the largest phone operators in Japan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t clean, doesn’t cook or doesn’t have any superpower. However, within a minute of going on sale, the first 1000 models (with a base price of $1600) were sold out in Japan.

Pepper is a social robot that can communicate through voice, touch and emotions. It is 4 feet tall, weighs 61 pounds, and equipped with numerous cameras, touch sensors, accelerometer in his “endocrine-type multi-layer neural network”. The machine has its own evolving emotions which are influenced by people’s voice tones and facial expressions. Currently, it can speak in English, Japanese, French and Spanish. In upcoming months, there will be more apps and languages available on app store.

6. Hector

Hector (Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot) is built by a research team at Bielefeld University, Germany. It is inspired by the motion of stick insects. It can behave rather like an insect and make its decision (or learn from experience) about how to move in immediate surroundings.

The robot has 6 limbs, which it can move independently, making it quickly adapt to the surface it is walking on. Using its sensors and short range cameras, Hector can figure out how to surmount unpredictable obstacles in its path. Its body is made of a very light exoskeleton, a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, and eighteen passive electric joints that mimic the way muscles act.

5. Self Healing Robot

Just like animals, robots now can ‘think outside the box’ to find an alternative behavior when they are damaged. A team of researchers at the Pierre and Marie Curie University have created a trial-and-error program that could change the robot’s behavior in response to damage – they won’t put pressure on the injured section.

The team has tested their algorithms on a small six-legged robot. As expected, the robot found an optimal way to walk forward after suffering many types of damages (like broken limbs). They also tested the program on a robotic arm, which continued to perform its task when two of joints motors were damaged in fourteen different ways.

4. MIT Cheetah Robot

MIT researchers have designed a Cheetah-inspired machine which is able to see, run and bound over the obstacles thrown into its path with ease. The project is funded by DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Maximum Mobility and Manipulation division. It is supposed to provide assistance in disaster relief in the future.

The robot can see the hurdles using its 2d laser based sensor and can calculate the most optimal way to jump over them in real time. The 32 kilogram machine lands on its feet after the jump and continues on its way. It is specially designed for highly dynamic behavior, and now scientists are planning to test the Cheetah out in the open to observe how it performs in the real world.

3. Spot

In 2005, Boston Dynamics unveiled BigDog. Now it has a smaller and advanced version called Spot. The electrically powered, hydraulically-actuated, four-legged robot can take a good kick.

The 72.5 kg robot can easily climb steps and briskly walk up steep slopes. Spot’s legs are angled backward like legs of a goat, and it also hops about like one. It uses scanning LIDAR for navigating, climbing a flight of stairs, running with man and moving with another robot. It is well known for keeping their balance, demonstrated very well in the video. Boston Dynamics isn’t revealing much information beyond saying it is developed for indoor and outdoor operations.

2. Samurai Robot Arm

Japan’s researchers now have started teaching robots how to swing swords. In April, 2015, Nimiki laboratory built a high speed, 6-axis, material handling robot named Motoman MH24. It is designed to be used in assembly, dispensing, material tending and packaging applications.

For “Yaskawa Bushido Project”, Yaskawa Electric Corporation joined with Isao Machii (master of the Iaijutsu sword fighting technique). Machii and MH24 robotic arm completed 5 challenges – slicing through fruits, flowers and horizontally placed peapod right across the middle. The machine was as effective as Machii, with an additional advantage of never having to rest.


HUBO is a humanoid robot, winner of DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) 2015. It is developed by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and first introduced on 6th January, 2005. The robot is built to perform multiple tasks.

Read: More Advanced Humanoid Robots

DRC-HUBO faced 22 other robots from 5 different countries and won $2 million grand prize. They needed to drive, get out of the car, walk, open door, clear obstacles, drill on cardboard, and walk up a flight of stairs. It completed all challenges in 44 minutes and 28 seconds. Its “transformer” ability to switch back and forth from wheeled machine to a walking biped proved key to its victory.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received M.tech degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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