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Technology

Top 5 Most Awesome Robots In The World

Published July 29, 2012
It is said that the ability to use tools is what separates humans from other species (although chimps, parrots and some others actually have the same ability). And since the industrial revolution we have become masters of automatic tools - machines. The last decades we have taken the next step, and have started constructing machines with artificial intelligence - robots. In this list of the most awesome robots in the world, you can read about how far we have come in this endeavour. Which of these robots that is most advanced, or most intelligent, is hard to determine since they all have different tasks.
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5. SmartBird

SmartBird is a robotic bird developed by the privately owned company Festo. SmartBird has a wingspan of about 2 m (6.5 ft) but weighs only 450 g (1 lbs), and can thus be run on a small 23 W motor (like an incandescent bulb). Festo has specialized in finding and mimicing principles of nature, such as a bird's flying technique in this case. SmartBird can fly and land automatically, but its "behaviour" can be adjusted using a remote control.

4. Nao

French-made Nao is the only robot in this list somewhat available for the general public. A couple of years ago it replaced Sony's robot dog Aibo in the yearly Robot Soccer World Cup, and is available for participating teams to program. Nao can also, for a relatively low price, be bought by universities for scientific and teaching purposes. Nao has the ability to recognize objects, sounds and even faces. If it falls it can get back up again and if you touch it, it feels it. The 60 cm (2 ft) tall robot is well-functioning, but not as impressive as its rival ASIMO (later on the list).
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3. Actroid

The Actroid-series is developed by the university in Osaka and the robot company Kokoro. They are not the most advanced robots in terms of artificial intelligence, but the unique thing about them is that they resemble humans to a high degree - something many other robot manufacturers avoid. Some of the Actroid-models are specialized in imitating persons they meet, while others can be remote controlled like an avatar. The robots are not really used for something useful right now, but they can be rented for a big cost for exhibitions or movie premieres. The video below shows the Actroid-F model, designed to look like an avarage young Japanese woman. All Actroid models have great mobility in their faces, but less in the rest of the body.

2. BigDog

Number two on the list of the most awesome robots in the world is BigDog, designed by the engineers at Boston Dynamics for the United States Department of Defense. It is supposed to serve as a pack mule for the military, even in rough terrain. Big Dog has four legs instead of wheels or tracks. It has stereo vision to maintain balance, a laser gyroscope and a number of sensors on the legs. Combined, these technical details gives BigDog a very lifelike behaviour, especially when it slips or get pushed. The amazing Big Dog is 90 cm (3 ft) long, 75 cm (2.5 ft) tall and weighs 110 kg (243 lb). It can carry 150 kg (331 lb) and move at a speed of 6 km/h (3.7 mph).

1. ASIMO

But coolest of them all is ASIMO. The 130 cm (4 ft) tall and 54 kg (119 lb) heavy ASIMO from Japanese Honda is programmed to function in normal human environments. It can walk at 3 km/h (1.9 mph) or run at 6 km/h (3.7 mph), and has the ability to avoid bumping into people on the way. It can also register when being touched and can recognize objects, gestures, sounds and faces. This makes ASIMO well adapted to interact with people, and the basic idea is that it should function as an assistent. For example, it can guide the visually impaired or disabled. So far, the expensive ASIMO is only found on different exhibitions, where it is often seen pouring coffee and dancing. But its proven potential makes it today's most awesome robot.
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