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.

Up Next

Climate Change
Changing Flight Altitudes Could Help Minimize Contrails
contrails
Climate Change
Changing Flight Altitudes Could Help Minimize Contrails
A study found that flying a small percentage of planes at slightly different altitudes could significantly decrease contrails, a global warming contributor.

A study found that flying a small percentage of planes at slightly different altitudes could significantly decrease contrails, a global warming contributor.

Future of Medicine
THC Could Help Women With Endometriosis
thc for endometriosis
Future of Medicine
THC Could Help Women With Endometriosis
Hundreds of thousands of women suffer with endometriosis, a disorder that causes painful tissue growth outside of the uterus. Pending clinical trials around THC may finally spell relief.
By Sarah Wells

Hundreds of thousands of women suffer with endometriosis, a disorder that causes painful tissue growth outside of the uterus. Pending clinical trials around THC may finally spell relief.

Dispatches
A New Kind of Headset “Hears” Words You Don’t Say
A New Kind of Headset “Hears” Words You Don’t Say
Dispatches
A New Kind of Headset “Hears” Words You Don’t Say
The project, named AlterEgo, intentionally crosses the line between what's "out there" and what's in your head.

The project, named AlterEgo, intentionally crosses the line between what's "out there" and what's in your head.

Dispatches
How Coffee Could Treat Diabetes
How Coffee Could Treat Diabetes
Dispatches
How Coffee Could Treat Diabetes
Someday, diabetics could use caffeine to trigger insulin production, thanks to specially designed kidney cells.

Someday, diabetics could use caffeine to trigger insulin production, thanks to specially designed kidney cells.

Superhuman
Using Virtual Reality to Help Kids with Autism
Using Virtual Reality to Help Kids with Autism
Watch Now
Superhuman
Using Virtual Reality to Help Kids with Autism
A virtual world offers a new way to engage with kids on the spectrum.
Watch Now

When their autistic son fell in love with a virtual reality headset, Vibha and Vijay Ravindran got an idea: could this unlimited digital world help people who have trouble engaging in the physical world? Together, they founded a company called Floreo to develop VR programs for people with developmental disabilities, helping them break free from the constraints of their bodies and the typical pressures of their learning...

Dispatches
Scientists Finally Get a Look at Enzyme that Protects DNA
protect DNA
Dispatches
Scientists Finally Get a Look at Enzyme that Protects DNA
We finally have a detailed picture of an enzyme that could play a key role in fighting both aging and cancer

We finally have a detailed picture of an enzyme that could play a key role in fighting both aging and cancer

On The Fringe
These Bacteria-Eating Sewer Viruses are Saving Lives
These Bacteria-Eating Sewer Viruses are Saving Lives
On The Fringe
These Bacteria-Eating Sewer Viruses are Saving Lives
The world discovered phages before antibiotics, but these lowly sewer viruses are getting renewed attention in the...
By Blake Snow

The world discovered phages before antibiotics, but these lowly sewer viruses are getting renewed attention in the age of antibiotic resistance.

Coded
How AI Could Revolutionize Coffee
How AI Could Revolutionize Coffee
Watch Now
Coded
How AI Could Revolutionize Coffee
Could the blockchain be used to make fair trade goods live up to their promise?
Watch Now

Around 1 in 60 people on the globe rely on the coffee supply chain for their livelihood. But it’s an antiquated system, rife with uncertainty, unfairness, and even corruption. Bext360 wants to change that. They’re using machine vision, artificial intelligence, and blockchain payments to bring the largest un-automated system in the world into the digital age.

The New Space Race
Where Did the Commercial Space Sector Come From?
Where Did the Commercial Space Sector Come From?
The New Space Race
Where Did the Commercial Space Sector Come From?
Private companies have worked with NASA for decades. Can the next generation of space companies get by without the...
By Mike Riggs

Private companies have worked with NASA for decades. Can the next generation of space companies get by without the government as their biggest customer?