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

Artificial Intelligence
Deep Learning vs. Machine Learning: Explained
deep learning vs machine learning
Artificial Intelligence
Deep Learning vs. Machine Learning: Explained
Deep learning vs. machine learning AI: what’s the difference?

Deep learning vs. machine learning AI: what’s the difference?

Genetics
Gene Therapy Restores Youthful Eye Cells — and Vision — to Older Mice
sight restoration
Genetics
Gene Therapy Restores Youthful Eye Cells — and Vision — to Older Mice
A team of researchers have achieved sight restoration in older mice and those modeling glaucoma, in what could be an important step in understanding aging.

A team of researchers have achieved sight restoration in older mice and those modeling glaucoma, in what could be an important step in understanding aging.

The Future Explored
All of Human Knowledge in a Tablespoon of DNA
dna hard drives
The Future Explored
All of Human Knowledge in a Tablespoon of DNA
With artificial DNA, a data storage facility as big as a football field could be compressed to the size of a sugar cube.

With artificial DNA, a data storage facility as big as a football field could be compressed to the size of a sugar cube.

Computer Science
Is It Possible to Predict the Next Black Swan Event?
black swan event
Computer Science
Is It Possible to Predict the Next Black Swan Event?
Extremely rare but massively disruptive, no one sees a black swan event coming. But researchers are building a method that may change that.

Extremely rare but massively disruptive, no one sees a black swan event coming. But researchers are building a method that may change that.

Public Health
FDA: Smokeless Cigarettes Produce Less Harmful Chemicals
Smokeless Cigarettes
Public Health
FDA: Smokeless Cigarettes Produce Less Harmful Chemicals
FDA clears Philip Morris to market its smokeless cigarettes as modified risk tobacco products, which could benefit smokers battling a nicotine addiction.

FDA clears Philip Morris to market its smokeless cigarettes as modified risk tobacco products, which could benefit smokers battling a nicotine addiction.

Wildfires
This Model May Help Predict Wildfires
predict wildfires
Wildfires
This Model May Help Predict Wildfires
Wildfires need dry fuel to thrive. Researchers at Stanford are working on an AI model to measure dryness to help predict, and control, the blaze.

Wildfires need dry fuel to thrive. Researchers at Stanford are working on an AI model to measure dryness to help predict, and control, the blaze.

Future of Medicine
Unlocking the Mysteries of Muscles in Motion
Unlocking the Mysteries of Muscles in Motion
Future of Medicine
Unlocking the Mysteries of Muscles in Motion
New kirigami-inspired skin patch may help people avoid injury, as it expands our understanding of muscle activity.
By Caroline Delbert

New kirigami-inspired skin patch may help people avoid injury, as it expands our understanding of muscle activity.

Dispatches
UV Robots Can Sterilize an ICU in 10 Minutes
UV Disinfection Robots
Dispatches
UV Robots Can Sterilize an ICU in 10 Minutes
UV light destroys bacterial DNA from the inside out, eradicating the toughest pathogens in minutes.

UV light destroys bacterial DNA from the inside out, eradicating the toughest pathogens in minutes.

Dispatches
A New Brain Surgery Robot Can Work Inside an MRI
A New Brain Surgery Robot Can Work Inside an MRI
Dispatches
A New Brain Surgery Robot Can Work Inside an MRI
Metal robots and electric motors don't normally play well with giant magnets.

Metal robots and electric motors don't normally play well with giant magnets.