So long as we don't go full Terminator — nobody should ever go full Terminator!

By now, the 2012 viral video of the “cheetah” robot galloping a swift 30 mph (about as fast as Usain Bolt, the fastest human on the planet) has scrolled past everyone’s social feeds a time or two, thereby frightening the life-blood out of each of us. The project — in part funded by the U.S. military’s research arm “DARPA” — is unnervingly still in commission. As a project update, the team recently uploaded a video of the same creature without its safety harness, showcasing a shiny new learned ability. It now runs and jumps over things on its own without actually seeing them. This is terrifying. Robots have becoming absolutely terrifying.

But the current culture of robotic technology is as fascinating as it is super scary. Sure, there’s a man-size droid built with capabilities of traversing mountainous landscapes with balancing skills akin to that of an Olympic gymnast (ATLAS). And there is a proficient rock climbing automaton (Axel). And battle shells exist, not unlike that of the Pacific Rim movie (MegaBots). And just about anything else we can think of is either in development or has been developed already, that would give guys like Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov the night sweats. There’s likely good coming out of all of this, however, right?

Because a monkey controlling a robotic arm with only its brain (at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University) is an object of terror, but will likely be used eventually in human applications to give limbs back to those who lost them. Likewise, companion droids, like the MEDi, are being used to curtail pain and bring comfort to hospitalized children with high-fives and semi-intelligent small talk.

So long as we don’t go full Terminator (no one should ever go full Terminator!), the next couple of decades are going to be a sight of wonderment in human progression — if even a little disturbing. Who knows? One night we might be floating around in a chair, watching a live clone of 2Pac at Coachella 2053 with our grandkids and telling them, “we remember when we had to use our legs for walking.” Those were the days …

WTF Robots, Changing The Game:

It's really gone this far, has it?


Likely the most Internet-famous of the robot species (we mortals bow to your excellence), HitchBOT was a road-hitting droid making successful hitchhiking trips through Canada, the Netherlands and Germany — traveling some 6,300 miles all with the help of strangers. We say “was” a road-hitting droid because only two weeks into its American trip, vandals in Philadelphia decapitated it, rendering it useless. Predictable.

Coca-Cola’s Social Robot

In 2013, Coca-Cola introduced its “Social Robot” to the 10th annual Summer Love Festival in Israel. Labeled non-ironically as a “real world surrogate for social situations” by the media, the at-home user-controlled little buddy is like Skype on wheels. What with the overcrowding of festivals and insane ticket prices we’re subjected to now, however, a robot counterpart doesn’t sound like the worst idea ever.


Developed by SoftBank Robotics Corp., Pepper is the world’s first emotion-sensing robot, capable of reading facial features and vocal tone to compute human mood. Considered a companion robot, Pepper sold out in under a minute when it was first offered to the public for purchase this past summer. Which is actually kind of sad … there’s that many lonely people out there. Pepper, hug!


Who needs to teach their kids an invaluable lesson of riding bicycles anymore when we can just buy them a robot that does it for them? Using a gyro to hold its balance and actual human-like steering motions to maintain control, the PRIMER V2 is a comical one. As impressive as its balancing act is, the casual beach cruiser also waves to passers-by and drags its feet like a 12-year-old asshole to brake.