The Amorphous Menace Creeps Forward

By Sean Carroll | November 29, 2011 8:01 am

We here at Cosmic Variance have long been warning of the coming robot menace. Not only are they gaining consciousness, they keep developing new and creepy ways to move. Along those lines, here’s a new robot from Harvard that looks like an innocent piece of plastic, but is actually a silent ninja with a variety of interesting gaits. (Via Mariette DiChristina’s Twitter.)

Researchers at George Whiteside’s lab explain that the idea came from observing squid and worms. Well, that’s comforting.

  • Anonymous
  • Justin Loe

    Another development in robotics in South Korea: robots as prison guards:

  • bigjohn756

    When I first saw it I thought — squid. It looks like it is connected by air hoses only
    making me wonder what kind of feedback is available for learning?

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I’d scream, if I had a mouth.

  • Pingback: World’s Strangest | The Amorphous Creeping Menace()

  • looks like

    looks like a dildo but a flat one that can move xD

  • Trevor

    A shape with… / A gaze blank and pitiless as the Sun / Is moving its slow thighs… / And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches… to be born?

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    What’s not to love about squid?

  • Chris Winter

    About those South Korean prison guard robots: I doubt they’ll last two weeks — unless the inmates they’ll be guarding are highly untypical.

    Two things right off the bat: Fragile radio antenna, and nothing to protect the camera lenses. Just pull a sock over the lenses and they’re useless.

  • Gizelle Janine

    Harvard is weird, I’ll say that. Robot guards? Even weirder.

  • sievemaria

    nice moves

  • cantordust

    Clever! but I so want to see what that wire is connected to..what a tease!

  • Rolf

    My wife can do that.

  • David McMillan

    I concur with the earlier comment about squid! It looks incredibly like a cephalopod – at least the end result of one when its ready for the plate!
    Absolutely incredible. Looking at the video it almost appears like it is thinking or deliberating in its movements or struggle to get to its destination.

  • Mandeep

    Quite cool — robots continue to advance in locomotive abilities. Of course, the key on one like this is when they’ll be able to unattach the air hoses, power, computer cables etc. that i assume all go through the connection. Tiny invertebrates can do all this already — with of course, a several billion year headstart, via evolution. But when will humans fully catch up to even them..?! Could be a while, yet. But i still take nothing away from what these researchers have achieved so far – very cool.


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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