Robotics and artificial intelligence are the “in thing” these days. We are seeing so much advancement in both fields that it is becoming difficult to keep up.
It is already obvious that we will develop robots to do practically anything, regardless of how weird that thing could be. There are already robots out there with bizarre or controversial characteristics and uses. Here are 10 of the weirdest robots we have made so far.
10 Robots That Eat Plants And Maybe Humans
The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) was created by Cyclone Power Technologies and Robotic Technology Inc. for the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The idea was to create a robot that could go on long-term missions without requiring refueling or recharging.
The result was a robot that fed on vegetation to create its own fuel. It also had a built-in chainsaw . . . you know, in case it needed to cut trees into chunks that could be swallowed.
People started asking questions about the chainsaw, particularly whether it had other undisclosed uses like chopping dead enemy soldiers for fuel. Another question concerned what the robot would do if there were no dead humans around. Would it decide to create its own dead humans? That obviously wouldn’t be difficult since it already had a chainsaw.
Cyclone Power Technologies, Robotic Technology Inc., and DARPA responded to these allegations and clarified that the robot was a strict vegetarian. It did not eat humans, living or dead, and there were no plans to make it do so.
9 Robots That Ride Camels
Camel racing is a popular sport in several Middle Eastern countries. However, there is one condition that has to be met before a camel can be allowed to race: It needs to be controlled by a jockey.
In the 1970s, children were kidnapped from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to be used as jockeys. This changed in 2005 when UNICEF pressured the UAE to ban child jockeys. Other countries followed suit, and the result was the introduction of small robot jockeys.
Each robot is controlled with a walkie-talkie held by an operator watching from the sidelines. Depending on the configuration of the jockey, the walkie-talkie can be used to issue voice commands or predetermined commands with the press of specific buttons. The commands include whipping the camels. Yes, human operators press buttons to make robots whip their camels.
Some jockeys even deliver electric shocks to urge the camels to increase their pace. This is illegal and carries a punishment of three months imprisonment, but it still happens. Besides receiving orders, the jockey sends back information about the health and location of the camel to the operator.
8 A Robot That Feeds Its Wearer Tomatoes
The Tomatan is one weird robot that feeds its wearer tomatoes as he runs. At this point, some of us must be wondering why anyone would even think of creating a robot that feeds a runner tomatoes. What else do we expect when a company that prides itself on being Japan’s largest producer of tomato juice and ketchup delves into the field of robotics?
Tomatan was a creation of the Japanese company Kagome. It has a tomato head (because how else will people know it’s a tomato-dispensing robot?) and releases tomatoes from its mouth straight into two circular arms that move toward the runner’s mouth. The Tomatan is carried on the runner’s shoulder.
Kagome did not stop at the Tomatan, however. It created a smaller version called the Petit-Tomatan. This one is worn on the back, just like a backpack.
Kagome says that people need to eat tomatoes while running because they contain nutritive agents that help to fight fatigue. Speaking of fatigue, the Tomatan weighs 8 kilograms (18 lbs) while the Petit-Tomatan weighs 3 kilograms (7 lb). Considering that marathon runners always need to be as light as possible, we are wondering whether the weight of the robot will be the thing causing fatigue in wearers.
7 Robot Armed With A Pistol
Dogo is the name of a small, tracked robot built by General Robotics of Israel. The robot is nimble and lightweight. It can go under cars, maneuver around small corners, and even climb stairs. It is fitted with eight cameras, which makes it suitable for reconnaissance and rescue operations. It is also armed with a Glock 26 pistol, which makes it suitable for some other duties.
The pistol is inserted sideways into the robot and is controlled by an operator. It can fire five rounds in two seconds and holds ups to 14 rounds. The weapon is stable and very accurate with little recoil.
6 Robot That Hikes
As its name hints, the hitchBOT hitchhikes through cities and across states alone. Two of the robots were created. In 2014, the first robot hitchhiked over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) from Halifax to Victoria in Canada. The journey took 26 days, during which the robot hitched 19 rides. The following year, it hitchhiked across several cities in Germany and the Netherlands.
The same year, a second robot was launched to hitchhike across the US. The robot started its journey in Salem, Massachusetts, and was supposed to end up in San Francisco. It never got to its destination as it was “murdered” in Philadelphia. Its head was stolen, and the rest of its body was completely destroyed. It was written off as irreparable.
It became evident that something had happened to the robot when it suddenly disappeared from an online map that allowed people to monitor its location. The robot took pictures at 20-minute intervals and could have taken pictures of its assailant. But it seems that whoever destroyed it did so within the 20-minute delay. Another unsolved murder here, people.
5 Robots That Smoke Cigarettes
We have two robots that smoke cigarettes here. The first is Elektro, a 213-centimeter-tall (7’0″) robot that was unveiled at the 1939 World’s Fair. Alongside Elektro was his English terrier robot dog, Sparko.
Sparko could sit up and bark like a normal dog, while Elektro could walk, count, and smoke. Today, Elektro remains at the Mansfield Memorial Museum in Ohio, while Sparko has been missing since 1957.
The second smoker robot is the aptly named cigarette-smoking bot. It was created by researchers at Harvard University. The cigarette-smoking bot is a chain smoker capable of smoking up to 12 cigarettes at a go. It puffs its cigarette like a human would, and researchers can even adjust its smoking speed. The cigarette-smoking bot was created to observe how smoking affects humans.
4 Robots That Comfort Dying People
Dying people usually need to be around their loved ones. For those whose loved ones won’t be there, Dan Chen, an artist and designer at the Rhode Island School of Design, can take care of them with his Last Moment Robot. Once around a dying person, the Last Moment Robot holds the person’s forearm and quickly introduces itself and explains what it does. It says:
Hello [person’s name]. I am the Last Moment Robot. I am here to help you and guide you through your last moment on Earth. I am sorry that your family and friends can’t be with you right now, but don’t be afraid. I am here to comfort you.
Whether it is ethical to have a robot comforting a dying person in lieu of a human is one question that will be up for debate. But we don’t know anyone’s reaction yet because the robot has not been used with a dying person. There are no plans to release the robot into the market, either.
3 Robots That Duel
With the increased interest in robotics, it was only a matter of time before we started using robots to duel, right? Sure! In fact, it has already happened. While smaller robots have been pitted against each other since at least 1994, 2017 became the year when two big robots dueled for the first time.
The contestants were Eagle Prime by MegaBots of the United States and Kurata by Suidobashi Heavy Industries of Japan. The ground for the battle was laid in 2015 when MegaBots challenged Suidobashi to a giant robot fight. Suidobashi accepted, and both started building and improving their robots for the event.
MegaBots presented two robots for the fight. The first was the smaller and older MK.II that was swiftly defeated in the first round of combat. The other was the $2.5 million, 12-ton, 5-meter-tall (16 ft) Eagle Prime that used a chainsaw to defeat the 6.5-ton, 4-meter-tall (13 ft) Kurata in the second round of combat.
2 The Robot That Always Wins Rock-Paper-Scissors
The Janken robot will always win a rock-paper-scissors game against a human. No human can defeat it because it cheats. It is capable of recognizing the gesture that the human opponent is about to make and quickly delivers a winning gesture.
The Janken’s recognition capability is so fast that it delivers the winning gesture at the same time as its opponent. The robot is actually an improvement on an earlier version released in June 2012. The first version also cheated but was slower, delivering its gesture about 20 milliseconds after its human opponent. Both were made by researchers at the University of Tokyo.
1 Robot That Pretends To Have The Swine Flu
Created by an unnamed Japanese company, the swine flu robot exhibits the symptoms of swine flu (also called the H1N1 virus) and will even die if not properly treated. The human-sized robot was built to train healthcare workers to treat swine flu victims. It looks like a human and is even covered in a material that replicates the features of human skin.
The robot will sweat, moan, cry, and convulse, just like someone who has swine flu. Its condition can improve or worsen depending on the quality of treatment. When treated improperly, it will die. While simulator robots mimicking human sicknesses are not new, the swine flu robot is believed to be the first specifically made to imitate the symptoms of just one ailment.