Robotic Animals… Mimicking or Mocking?

There are many digital trends transforming our world, every day we accept and utilise new technologies with little consideration or disturbance. However, recent developments in mimicking human and animal behaviour in robotics raise many questions.

Boston Dynamics have created state of the art robots which emulate the behaviour of animals, allowing them to move and rebalance themselves in the way that an animal would. They use a combination of sensor-based controls and computation to ‘unlock the capabilities of complex mechanisms’ (Boston Dynamics, 2017). These technological advancements put the true automation of robots within reach.

Spot, the four-legged robot, which looks similar to a dog, can be used both indoor and outdoor. It is able to maintain its balance on rough terrain, ice, and even when being kicked over. Not only this but he is able to carry a 23kg load for 45 minutes.

Handle has been developed with both wheels and legs. Legs create the capability of being able to deal with rough terrain and go almost anywhere, while wheels allow the robot to move fast and efficiently on flat surfaces. Handle is able to pick up loads of up to 45kg while occupying only a small space. It is able to bend down and manoeuvre through tight spaces.

Classically we know machines and robots as slow, however these robots are quick, accurate and dynamic. They could have many applications, from warehouse work, to delivering aid over rough terrain in natural disasters. However, as technology advances and these innovative robots open up new opportunities, we have to question how can we integrate robots into our everyday lives while keeping humans safe?

Abygail Hadley