Skip to main content
Move the World.

The robotics revolution is upon us. And we submit to you that it (probably) won’t be a bloody one.

Why? Because leading robotics researchers in the U.S. and elsewhere are focusing their attention and energy on making machines that will make human life better.

From soft robots that could change internal medicine, to exoskeletons that could improve life for factory workers, here’s a glimpse of the robot research that could change life in the very near future.

Researchers have built a first-of-its-kind autonomous soft robot

When we talk about robots--heck, when we think about robots--we’re mostly talking and thinking about what’s called “hard” robots, meaning they’re made from hard materials (like metal).

But to make machines that can work inside humans, we’ll need to see big advances in the field of “soft” robotics, i.e., robots made from rubber-like materials and powered by chemical reactions rather than metal batteries. And those advances are happening now.

Just this month, researchers at Harvard announced the creation of a fully autonomous robot that has no metal components. It’s called the Octobot, and it works like this:

Robot nannies, robot doctors, robot everybodies

We already use robots to help us park our cars and clean our houses. But we might soon use them to do a lot more than that. In The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century , Ryan Avent argues that there’s no hard limit to the types of jobs robots could do. He recently spoke to Timothy B. Lee at Vox about whether we’ll eventually see robots acting as our doctors and therapists.

We’re one prototype closer to a real-life mech suit

Hyundairobot
Credit: Hyundai

South Korean automaker Hyundai recently unveiled an upgraded version of the exoskeleton they first publicized last year. And this one looks really close to being market-ready.

Like most exo manufacturers, Hyundai says the suit can help restore mobility to the elderly and the injured. But new pics released by the carmaker suggest the suit could be useful for all kinds of people doing all kinds of work.

Coming this October: The first cyborg Olympics

cybathlon
Credit: Cybathlon

Sporting enthusiasts who can’t compete in the conventional Olympics due to the use of prosthetic devices will get their own competitive venue at October’s first Cybathlon in Zurich, Switzerland. But instead of tossing javelins or jumping hurtles, participants will compete by demonstrating control of their preferred assistive technology. “For competitors with prosthetic arms,” The Next Web reports, “contests include slicing loaves of bread and opening jars of jam. Other events include people climbing stairs or walking across stepping-stones.”

Should we be scared of robots stealing our jobs?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, investor and former computer programmer Andy Kessler says that robots will actually create more jobs than they steal.

And they may even be able to do jobs that humans simply can’t. Like stopping the invasive lionfish species from destroying the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

More About

Dispatches
Tiny Satellite “Constellations” Could Bring the Entire World Online
Tiny Satellite “Constellations” Could Bring the Entire World Online
Dispatches
Tiny Satellite “Constellations” Could Bring the Entire World Online
SpaceX is out in front, but the race for global satellite internet is getting crowded.
By Dan Bier

SpaceX is out in front, but the race for global satellite internet is getting crowded.

Dispatches
How Redesigning Labs Can Demystify Genetic Science
How Redesigning Labs Can Demystify Genetic Science
Dispatches
How Redesigning Labs Can Demystify Genetic Science
"Scientists work in high-security buildings that are banned to the public and then wonder why they are misunderstood."
By Brook Muller

"Scientists work in high-security buildings that are banned to the public and then wonder why they are misunderstood."

Intel
The Future of Cancer Research
The Future of Cancer Research
Watch Now
Intel
The Future of Cancer Research
Intel's Bryce Olson used genomic sequencing to help fight his cancer. Now he’s helping researchers use artificial intelligence to discover entirely new cancer treatments.
Watch Now

Intel employee Bryce Olson was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. When the standard of care didn’t work, Bryce turned to genomic sequencing which allowed his doctors to identify specific genetic drivers of his disease and specific treatments and clinical trials that were a fit for his cancer. This precision medicine approach helped send his cancer into remission for several years. Now that his cancer has returned, Bryce is working…

Dispatches
Your DNA Is Not the Same in Every Cell
Your DNA Is Not the Same in Every Cell
Dispatches
Your DNA Is Not the Same in Every Cell
Your body began with a single cell and a single genetic code. But it didn't stay that way for long.
By Dan Bier

Your body began with a single cell and a single genetic code. But it didn't stay that way for long.

Technology
eSight Lets the Legally Blind See
eSight Lets the Legally Blind See
Watch Now
Technology
eSight Lets the Legally Blind See
This legally blind man is seeing his wedding for the first time. 15 years after he got married.
Watch Now

Some people who are legally blind can still see, but images can be blurry and in low contrast. eSight has created a headset that can give sight to the blind through three technologies. First, an HD camera captures video. Second, a built in computer increases contrast and clarity. Third and finally, the image is projected on displays in real time. 15 years after marrying his wife, eSight helped a legally…

The New Space Race
Who Owns the Moon?
Who Owns the Moon?
The New Space Race
Who Owns the Moon?
Throughout history, different organizations, governments, and even individuals have attempted to establish rules for, and ownership of, outer space.
By Mike Riggs

Throughout history, different organizations, governments, and even individuals have attempted to establish rules for, and ownership of, outer space.

The New Space Race
The Market for Tiny Satellites Is Going to Be Huge
The Market for Tiny Satellites Is Going to Be Huge
The New Space Race
The Market for Tiny Satellites Is Going to Be Huge
Fleets of small satellites can gather far more accurate and timely data than conventional satellites. And investors are taking notice.
By Mike Riggs

Fleets of small satellites can gather far more accurate and timely data than conventional satellites. And investors are taking notice.

The New Space Race
What a Controversial Asteroid Mission Tells Us About U.S. Space Policy
What a Controversial Asteroid Mission Tells Us About U.S. Space Policy
The New Space Race
What a Controversial Asteroid Mission Tells Us About U.S. Space Policy
Billions spent on projects of questionable benefit - like the plan to capture an asteroid - raises the question: Should…
By Mike Riggs

Billions spent on projects of questionable benefit - like the plan to capture an asteroid - raises the question: Should NASA take a back seat in the 21st century space race?