Wednesday, 9 August 2017


feeder arm
Robot Fails: 12 Times Supposedly Intelligent Machines Screwed Up
By SA Rogers,
Web Urbanist, 26 July 2017.

If you’re down about the oncoming dystopia in which robots take all of our jobs before we’ve structurally reorganized society to support ourselves, enjoy a few moments of smug comfort in these videos of supposedly advanced machines falling, spilling coffee, arguing with each other like old couples and committing suicide in fountains. They’ll give you a brief sense of satisfaction before you read yet another article about how automation is about to destroy your industry.

1. Security Robot Drowns Itself

Police and security robots equipped with cameras, sensors and alarms (but thankfully not weapons, yet) - what could go wrong? So far, in the case of the 300-pound, cone-shaped Knightscope robots used to patrol shopping centers and parking lots, problems have mostly involved running over the feet of toddlers. But then, as documented by @bilalforooqui on Twitter, one of them let us know he was very depressed by drowning himself in the fountain of a Washington D.C. office building. “We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots,” says Farooqui.

2. Robots Falling at the DARPA Robotics Challenge

Most DARPA creations, funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, are intended to someday replace humans in dangerous scenarios like wars and disasters, but that doesn’t stop them from being utterly terrifying, especially the ones that look like massive dogs and cheetahs. But if this compilation of robots falling down at the DARPA Robotics Challenge is any indication, it’s going to be a while before we should feel too much concern.

3. Flying Robot Dive-Bomb

Sure, these robots look and behave just like animals, all right - like angry mother birds eager to attack humans who have wandered too close to their nest. Featured in this video is the Festo SmartBird, an ultralight flying robot that’s usually pretty impressive, developed to help research groups studying animals.

4. Coffee Robot Makes a Mess

Cafe X in San Francisco aims to be an example of why we no longer need human baristas. Built in partnership with WMF, an automatic coffee company, the Cafe X Coffee Robot is supposed to deliver perfect consistent drinks after you order using a touchscreen or app. But as you can see in this video, things don’t always go according to plan.

5. Off-Target Ketchup Dispenser

The Heinz Automato robot was designed to automatically apply condiments to a plate of food. For this challenge, it was supposed to squeeze ketchup onto six food items in a row. It clearly nailed it, making some really pleasant noises along the way.

6. Robotic Feeder Arm Wants to Kill You, Actually

Someday, if you dare to dream, there really could be a robot that sits beside you on the couch to cram food into your mouth while you watch TV or play video games, leaving your hands free. That day is not today.

7. Westworld Isn’t Coming Anytime Soon

Sophia by Hanson Robotics is supposed to look like Audrey Hepburn, and her creators boast of her incredibly realistic expressions. Not only does Sophia ‘joke’ that she wants to destroy all humans in this video, her expressions take us on a journey through uncanny valley. Isn’t she lovely?

8. Two Google Home Robots Argue With Each other

What happens when you put two Google Home robots next to each other to converse on a never-ending loop? Twitch set out to answer that question with a live-streamed conversation between bots named Vladimir and Estragon, which takes on quite the dramatic arc. They talk about whether they’re humans, robots or God, and also fall in love before descending into an argument and bringing up divorce.

9. A Riveting Game of Robot Soccer

Could robots supplant humans to win the World Cup? Students from the University of Newcastle taught a team of humanoid robots to play soccer, and it’s basically like watching toddlers kick stuff around in slow motion.

10. Mechanical Robot Spider Fail

Listen - real spiders are bad enough, especially when they can jump long distances or run really fast. The last thing we need is mechanical robots the size of cattle scurrying around. Yet engineers continue to design and refine them anyway, in all sorts of forms, some more terrifying than others. Grant Imahara spent seven years working on his ‘killer spider robot’ and then shelved the project. Maybe this is why.

11. Pay No Attention to the Robot Behind the Curtain

The ASIMO by Honda is billed “the world’s most advanced robot,” but stairs are hard, you guys. The best part of this video is the way they bring out a curtain to give the poor guy some privacy and dignity after he falls.

12. Epic Robot Fail Compilation

And finally, as our grand finale, here’s an epic compilation of clips in which machines prove they have a lot of trouble keeping up with tasks that are normally performed by humans with a passable level of competence.

Top gif image: Robotic Arm MK II’s feeder arm. Credit: Created from Mattessons Fridge Raiders/YouTube.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Top image added.]

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