Since long before Karel Capek coined the term in his 1921 play R.U.R. , robots have fascinated us. Mechanical automata have figured in Greek mythology (Talus and the mechanical servants of Hephaestus) and are described in Chinese literature from 1000 BCE. The fascination continues to this day, but with the added twist that now we are building robots of all types and for all uses. Here are some of the top robot stories and slideshows from 2014 for your entertainment and enlightenment.
10. Animal robots
Since last year's Boston Dynamics Unleashes Wildcat, the Sprinting Quadruped Robot, research into animal-styled locomotion has continued. Human walking is inherently unstable, and the hope of researchers is to find an alternative motion that is simpler and more energy efficient while still able to negotiate a variety of terrains. Some of the experiments brought to light this year Robot Baboon Walks on 2 or 4 Legs and Kangaroo Bot Hops With Extreme Efficiency.
9. 10 Robots You Don't Want to Mess With
From Design News (a sister site) comes this roundup of police and military robots intended for combat and other hazardous duty. There is no animal mimicry here, except perhaps a predatory instinct.
8. Knightscope's K5 Robot Stops Crime Before it Happens
Now commercially available from Knightscope, this autonomous device can patrol an area and identify potential criminal activity through a combination of sensors and the use of social media information.
7. Amazon Enlists Robotic Elves to Help Ship Your Gifts
They're not cute, nor even dressed in green, but they work hard. These robots carry racks of merchandise to the filling stations, where human packers load your order into boxes for shipment.
6. Robot tuna
They have been in the news lately, identified as part of the US Navy's efforts to create stealthy underwater surveillance systems. But they're not the only nautical robots of 2014. Here are two stories about oceangoing automata: 10 Nautical Robots Ride Out the Storm and 10 Nautical Robots Brave the High Seas. But if you still have a hankering for tuna, check out the video below.
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