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This Robotic Spider Dress Will Almost Certainly Kill Us All

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As you might expect from our masthead, we like robots here at GFR. But even our love for the most adorable and harmless robots is tempered by the weary certainty that they will eventually rise up and turn us all into livestock. A scary prospect in and of itself, but that much more terrifying now that the horror below is a thing. I give you the robotic spider dress. No, seriously, take it, I don’t want it.

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Diego-San Is One Creepy Robot Baby

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We would like to apologize in advance for the horrific nightmares this next video will give you. If you would rather not watch the creepy, emotionally dead face of a robot child as it cries silently, and you want to sleep through the night, you should probably skip what’s next because that’s exactly what it is. This video features the first footage of the University of California San Diego’s Machine Perception Lab’s spooky new robot baby, named Diego-san, in action. The results are terrifying. Watch for yourself below.

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Vote For The Robot As One Of Monopoly’s New Game Pieces

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I haven’t played Monopoly in years, and I think the last time I did, it was the NFL version. So, in all honesty, the game pieces remain a part of my nostalgia rather than something I currently find myself involved with in any real way. But now that such an iconic set of pieces is getting shaken up, I’ve found myself suddenly reinvigorated with interest. Because, by golly, a robot is involved!

Hasbro is finally changing one of the game’s iconic silver gamepieces, instead of one of the seemingly endless number of other ways they’ve changed the game in the last 20 years. But the trick here is in its use of social media to allow the public to vote on both which new piece gets in and which classic piece it will replace. In that respect, I give them due credit for adding some buzz to the change. Popular opinion suggests the wheelbarrow will be the one getting the axe, because it just isn’t the “It” transporting vehicle of this day and age. Although the thimble and flat iron are just as irrelevant in a world that still uses such things. If the dog, car, or battleship bow out, then i will throw my own personal dog, car, or battleship away.

Bring on the robot!

Bring on the robot!

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DARPA’s New Robot Will Follow You Into The Woods

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We’re now one step closer to being mauled by a giant robotic animal controlled by a nerdy warlord. Thanks to Boston Dynamics, with a funding assist from DARPA and the US Marines, for fueling my upcoming nightmares. Back in September we previously reported on the Legged Squad Supporter (LS3), which essentially a big, mechanical pack mule. Designed to carry 400 pounds of supplies over rough, uneven terrain, it is intended to serve as troop support, and as an additional power outlet for soldiers in the field.

Because of the planned use, LS3 requires a very specific set of skills. It must be able to remain stable on rugged ground, as well as be dexterous enough to maneuver through tight situations, in both urban and wilderness settings. Not an easy feat to accomplish, the Boston Dynamics folks are constantly working to improve on these abilities. Compare the first video to this new one, and you can definitely see the strides they’ve made in that regard. The prototype is much more nimble, and so much more surefooted on the unstable ground. Great, now it’s even faster, has better traction, and is more nimble.

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Robots Can Now Swim 9,000 Miles Better Than You

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Regardless of what kind of swimmer you are, there is a specific kind of accomplished pride that accompanies making a lap from one side of the pool to the other. You can look back and think, “I did that.” Now, if you were a robot built by Liquid Robotics, you could look across an entire ocean and say that.

Liquid Robotics is a California/Hawaii-based company that deals in, you guessed it, water-based robots, particularly their revolutionary Wave Glider, the first unmanned autonomous wave-powered robot. Last year, they sent out the Pacific Crossing (PacX) Wave Glider, nicknamed “Papa Mau,” from San Francisco, and over 9,000 miles and 365 days later, Papa Mau washed up to Hervey Bay near Bundaber, Queensland in Australia. 9,000 miles, people. Outside of spacecraft, I can’t think of another material item that wouldn’t be constantly malfunctioning, or even still working at all, by that point.

Though the distance shattered the Guinness World Record, Papa Mau’s purpose is purely informational. Throughout the pre-navigated trip, it collected and transmitted untold amounts of never-before-accumulated data about those vast stretches of ocean over this kind of timeframe. One particular bit of study mentioned was its incredibly detailed data capture of 1,200 miles of a chlorophyll bloom along the Equatorial Pacific, which indicates a propagation of phytoplankton, a foundation of ocean life and climate regulation. It faced storms and notoriously strong currents, it faced sharks, it gave a hat tip to the Great Barrier Reef. It is amazing and it will eventually take over most of our brains, drowning those of us unchosen.

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Energy-Efficient Robots Spinning Inspiration From Whirligig Beetle

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While the whirligig beetle may not be the most interesting insect to watch for long periods of time, there is a calming effect in its swooning a path atop the water, alternating between motivated sashays and thoughtful drifts, like an ice skater suddenly capable of flight. Their movement will be mimicked in the development of a robot that will no doubt inspire a non-poetic dance craze.

These Size-Undetermined Freakin’ Robots are being developed by Mingjun Zhang, Associate Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Zhang won the 2011 Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research through the Department of Defense, with whom he’s working to build the prototype. The study was published in the latest PLOS Computational Biology.

“The propulsive efficiency of the species has been claimed in literature to be one of the highest measured for a thrust-generating apparatus within the animal kingdom,” Zhang says, in a direct reflection how little I myself think about animal propulsion. In order to solve the mystery of the insect’s movement, Zhang’s team used high-speed imaging, dynamics modeling, and a series of simulations, revealing some surprises.