Intriguing and Inventive Robot Designs that prove artificial intelligence is here to stay + make the world a better place!

Artificial Intelligence has catapulted in recent years, and the advancements being made in this field make me feel as if it won’t be long before we have robots walking amongst us all the time! There was a point in time when the only forms of robots that we could see were toys or vacuum cleaners, or if we were lucky an AI-enabled lawnmower in some tech-trendy individual’s backyard! But we have come a long long way since then. From a basketball-playing Japanese robot at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics to a Microsoft-powered robot that cleans up littered cigarette butts on the beach – the potential and scope of robots grow exponentially day by day. The world at large is slowly moving away from the perception of robots as evil beings who want to take over the Earth, and accepting that they may have vast and undeniable utility in even our day-to-day lives. Whether programmed for fun or functionality, robots are always intriguing to watch and examine! And, we’ve curated some really innovative ones that completely blew our minds away!

At the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, world-class athletes were showcasing their talent, but a robot stole all the limelight during a basketball game between the U.S. and France. Demonstrating the early stages of the machine-dominated dystopian future, the seven-foot robot developed by Toyota engineers scored a perfect three-pointer and half-court shot. The eerily designed robot took to the center stage at halftime break during a showdown game.  The Toyota engineers created this free throw shooting robot in their free time over the last couple of years – and at the game – the smart machine beat human players shot for shot. It perfectly landed an easy free throw, a three-pointer, and a flawless half-court shot (just like Stephen Curry) in tandem to wow the crowd!

In collaboration with OTTOBO Robotics, product and car designer Berk Kaplan developed a concept design for a task robot that integrates smart technology to streamline ergonomics and package-carrying flexibility. During the beginning stage of the concept design phase, Kaplan first conducted his own research to settle on the overall mood and personality of the robot. Following the research period, Kaplan sat down to sketch outlines of his robot in development, toying around with practical elements and aesthetic touches. The first proposal envisioned the robot with both a hard outer shell and inner core, giving it a tough, hardworking personality and weighty body. Where the first proposal found durability in a tough exterior and interior, the third proposal from Kaplan wrapped the robot in a soft outer shell to cover the robot’s soft interior core. The second proposal, which Kaplan and OTTOBO Robotics ultimately chose as the concept design’s final form, conceived the robot with a soft outer shell and hard inner core for a cushioned tactile experience, outfitting the robot with a friendly and approachable disposition.

Xiaomi, a Chinese tech company, recently unveiled more 3D renders of their own Quadruped robotic creation, CyberDog. Currently, the bio-inspired, four-legged robot has been engineered as a robotic companion whose future technical capabilities are still in development. In a recent press release from Xiaomi, it’s said that CyberDog comes complete with “AI interactive cameras [and sensors], binocular ultra-wide-angle fisheye cameras, and Intel ® RealSense™ D450 Depth module, and can be trained with its computer vision algorithm.”

Oliver is a collaborative robot that can operate both automated and manual delivery services. Smart technology equips Oliver with the know-how to handle autonomous delivery outings most likely contained within indoor spaces like warehouses and office buildings. Goods can be placed inside of Oliver the same way items are carried by utility carts and additional packages can be attached to Oliver’s rear trailer. Once the goods are packed away, a touchscreen display allows users to orient Oliver and schedule their deliveries. The vertical carrying space automatically rises at each delivery destination to make the unloading process more manageable. Besides automated delivery services, Oliver can operate as a conventional utility cart if users would prefer to deliver their goods on foot.

This robot may look like the Mars rover, but it’s a unique cigarette bud collecting bot designed to clean up the litter on beaches. Called the BeachBot (BB), this cute little four-wheeled machine was developed by Edwin Bos and Martijn Lukaart of TechTics. The duo got livid with the amount of trash (cigarette butts in particular) on the Scheveningen Beach in Holland and wanted to design a robot that could help clean up the mess. That’s how the 2.5-feet wide BeachBot came into existence, looking to navigate the beaches on its bloated wheels that don’t create any marks on the sand. The battery-powered bot has an AI brain that uses image-detection software to identify the butts and then pick them up with its gripper arms. The collected trash is then stored in the onboard compartment to dispose of later.

The KODA Robot Dog holds the title for being the first high-end domestic robot-dog running on a decentralized blockchain network, with its ‘own brain’ – an 11 teraflop processor capable of A.I. machine-learning. The dog-type quadruped robot relied on a decentralized network to share data and optimize behavior, making all KODA dogs smarter by relying on a hive-mind of sorts. “For example, a KODA dog in Phoenix can use the knowledge it automatically receives from other KODAs that are based in colder climates, like Anchorage, Alaska or Toronto, Canada”, Harden mentions to Yanko Design. “Without ever having set foot on ice, the KODA in Phoenix will learn how to avoid slipping. This includes warning its owner as well.” Armed with that incredibly powerful software, Whipsaw’s design took an interesting-yet-logical decision of ensuring the KODA robot dog (as intelligent and capable as it was) still retained a friendly, cute demeanor.

Keunwook Kim designed Post-Plant, a collection of non-humanoid robots that respond to and move through non-verbal, physical interaction. Following a period of researching how humans can read emotion from non-verbal cues, Kim gathered that arousal (dynamic energy), valence (intrinsic attractiveness), and stance (visual disposition) can each be interpreted as signs for emotional analysis. Applying this information to Post-Plant, Kim’s non-humanoid robots do not express emotion through facial expression, but through movement and changing forms. Built into each one of his Post-Plant robots, Kim incorporated a motor interface that combines an input and output system, registering when the robot is touched and responding with movement.

Imagine if R2-D2 got a 2021 makeover? Well, BEBOP Design did something like that…they took the concept and gave it a sleek makeover to give us all Information Robot! This is an autonomous robot designed specifically for the Korean startup Zetabank that aims to make human lives safer and healthier with the help of robots. Zetabank has a range of robots and this is their second collaboration with BEBOP. The company’s mission is to improve our lives using artificial intelligence. Their Disinfectant Robot, Hospitality Robot, and Untact Robot are all designed keeping in mind how they can maximize utility and bring practicality to make our day-to-day more efficient. Continuing that legacy is Information Robot which is created as a service platform for digital interactions building upon the Hospitality Robot’s intelligence. These digital interactions are enhanced by the robot’s autonomous movement in various commercial and residential spaces.

Eggo’s mission is simple – to give you a robot pet that is always by your side and provides a positive experience to you. This egg-shaped companion lets you raise a pet online or offline without taking away from the experience. It has a simple design, minimal interface, and an organic shape that invites interaction. Eggo moves autonomously by grasping the terrain through a camera. The smart pet also automatically goes to charge itself when the battery is low and I honestly wish my phone did the same thing. Even though it is a robot, designer Hyunjae Tak made sure to include an emotional side so Eggo can express how it is ‘feeling’ through the LED colors which are extremely important when interacting with children. It uses the inner wheel to move on its own and actually forms a unique personality according to how you take care of it just as you would with a real-life pet!

This gadget can be fixed to the wearer’s forehead, who is too busy looking down at the smartphone. You know where we are heading, don’t you? Yes, the 3rd Eye keeps a lookout on obstacles as you walk on the street, with the phone screen keeping you preoccupied. The inbuilt ultrasonic sensor automatically detects whenever your head is tilted down to check the phone and beeps a warning buzz when a hazard is detected up to a distance of one meter. This niche creation is a part of Minwook’s Innovation Design Engineering degree at London’s Royal Imperial College of Art and Imperial College. The designer sees this evolution of human beings as a sarcastic imagination for him to do something creative. He labels the evolution as “phono sapiens,” and understandably so, seeing how we are so deeply lost in the world of the internet. How do you identify a phono sapien? With their forward-leaning neck vertebrae resulting in the dreaded turtle neck syndrome!

Warehouse-friendly robot comes outfitted with smart technology to streamline operation and optimize ergonomics!

In collaboration with OTTOBO Robotics, product and car designer Berk Kaplan developed a concept design for a task robot that integrates smart technology to streamline ergonomics and package-carrying flexibility.

Each day, it feels like we’re getting closer to a future where robots will walk among us. Advancements in smart technology and Artificial Intelligence have streamlined and catapulted robot development to the forefront of our minds. Wrocław-based car and product designer Berk Kaplan recently teamed up with OTTOBO Robotics to develop a concept design for their smart task robot.

During the beginning stage of the concept design phase, Kaplan first conducted his own research to settle on the overall mood and personality of the robot. Following the research period, Kaplan sat down to sketch outlines of his robot in development, toying around with practical elements and aesthetic touches. The first proposal envisioned the robot with both a hard outer shell and inner core, giving it a tough, hardworking personality and weighty body.

Where the first proposal found durability in a tough exterior and interior, the third proposal from Kaplan wrapped the robot in a soft outer shell to cover the robot’s soft interior core. The second proposal, which Kaplan and OTTOBO Robotics ultimately chose as the concept design’s final form, conceived the robot with a soft outer shell and hard inner core for a cushioned tactile experience, outfitting the robot with a friendly and approachable disposition.

Once the final conceptual form was chosen by the OTTOBO Robotics team and Kaplan, 3D models were created to further develop the robot from every angle. Working with 3D models of the robot allows Kaplan to find the best ways to optimize the robot’s ergonomics and package flexibility. During this stage, more technical specifications were chosen for the robot, more specifically deciphering how smart technology would be built into the room to ensure its operability. Following this concept design phase, Kaplan and the OTTOBO Robotics team are looking forward to future production.

Designer: Berk Kaplan x OTTOBO Robotics

Berk Kaplan used 3D models after deciding on the robot’s conceptual final form to understand its shape from every angle.

Using 3D technology, Kaplan deciphered how to best optimize the robot’s package-carrying flexibility. 

After settling on its form and creating matching 3D models, Kaplan added aesthetic details like branding and logos. Production coming soon!

The viral Xiaomi robotic dog posed to be an affordable challenge to Boston Dynamic’s Spot just released new images + sketches!

Quadruped robots hit the scene in 1976 and since then, they’ve been used for everything from unsafe forensic and governmental tasks such as bomb-sniffing and mine surveying to clinical tasks like connecting with patients to provide remote medical attention.

Quadruped technology is the talk of the robotics world. Four-legged robots are relied on by industries across the world for tasks that require a stable walking gait and agile mobility. Xiaomi, a Chinese tech company, recently unveiled more 3D renders of their own Quadruped robotic creation, CyberDog.

Currently, the bio-inspired, four-legged robot has been engineered as a robotic companion whose future technical capabilities are still in development. In a recent press release from Xiaomi, it’s said that CyberDog comes complete with “AI interactive cameras [and sensors], binocular ultra-wide-angle fisheye cameras, and Intel ® RealSense™ D450 Depth module, and can be trained with its computer vision algorithm.”

CyberDog’s external interface features an array of camera sensors. CyberDog’s involved vision sensor system allows the robot to carve out its own navigational map and analyze its surrounding environment in real-time, allowing it to look toward a destination and avoid physical barriers on the way. Currently, CyberDog’s integrated software allows the quadruped robotic companion to operate like a real dog.

Inspired by the pet-like nature of canines, CyberDog also features built-in smart technology that allows posture and facial recognition, which means CyberDog can even follow its owner around like a real dog. Xiaomi filled CyberDog with 11 high-precision sensors that allow the robot to register, analyze, and interact with its surrounding environment. With a maximum torque output and rotation speed up to 32N·m/220Rpm, CyberDog can move at speeds up to 3.2 m/s.

Syberdog also comes with 3 type-C ports and 1 HDMI port so users can attach hardware add-ons, Xiaomi describes, “be it a search light, panoramic camera, motion camera, LiDAR, or more.” In addition to its integrated biometric technology, CyberDog responds to voice commands like assigning tasks or operation control. Alternatively, users can manage CyberDog’s movement and direction via accompanying remote control or smartphone applications.

Expanding on CyberDog’s technical and managerial potential, a “rich external interface” includes 3 type-C ports and 1 HDMI port, allowing users to attach hardware add-ons or software systems to make acute improvements to CyberDog’s existing technology. On CyberDog’s ability to register commands, Xiaomi notes, “CyberDog can be called on for the most unique tasks, and the ways in which it can be interacted with holds unforetold possibilities.”

Designer: Xiaomi

Rubber bottomed feet allow CyberDog to move around rugged terrain and indoor settings alike.

Hinged limbs allow CyberDog to move just like a canine animal.

CyberDog can even do push-ups. Only half-kidding. It can do push-ups, thanks to its 220 rpm32N-m maximum torque.

Soft rubber bottoms allow for soft and nimble treading.

11 high-precision sensors fill out CyberDog’s internal wiring that give CyberDog the power to understand, analyze, and interact with its environment.

CyberDog comes equipped with voice command technology and facial recognition software so it can follow humans around and respond to tasks like a real canine might.

CyberDog can conduct high-speed movements up to 3.2 m/s.

Domestic Robots are a new frontier for Industrial Designers: Whipsaw CEO, Dan Harden





“We are finally seeing an inflection point in the industry”, says Whipsaw CEO and Principal Designer, Dan Harden as he talks about how robots are slowly entering our households. Back at the beginning of the 2000s, the only robots you could find around the house were probably either toys (RC cars, RoboSapiens), or domestic cleaning robots like the vacuum cleaner or the lawn-mower. Today, home service robots are increasingly becoming an emerging trend, creating a unique new opportunity for designers to establish the identity, personality, form, function, and usability factors of these soon-to-emerge home service robots. “It is one of the most exciting design frontiers since the very founding of our profession”, Harden tells Yanko Design.

The west has been rather slow in adopting robots in domestic settings (something I often attribute to films like Terminator, iRobot, or Transformers, which haven’t really made robots look too friendly), while countries in the east like Japan and China (who haven’t been inherently exposed to ‘evil robots’) have traditionally been much more accepting robots in their domestic lives. Obviously, the ‘evil robot’ archetype’s been balanced out by robots like R2D2, Wall.E, and Jarvis, whose prime objective has always been that of a human-serving side-kick. The burgeoning domestic robot movement (domestic as opposed to industrial) has always sought to follow this trend – of serving humans by handling menial repetitive tasks. Boston Dynamics’ robot dog was used to patrol roads during the lockdown in Singapore, the Cafe X Robotic Coffeebar in San Francisco uses a robotic arm to prepare and serve you fresh coffee, and perhaps the most prime example of a domestic robot, your beloved Roomba cleans your floors with more accuracy and efficiency than a human.

Follow Whipsaw’s work and read more on their blog here

The 2021 IDEA Award-winning Bizzy Robot

Human-inspired, pet-like, or alien – What must a Robot look like?

The holy grail of robotics has always been to build a multi-purpose bionic ‘butler’ – a dream that Whipsaw’s been working on for a better part of the past decade, but has been pretty vocal about its elusiveness. “Robots are complex and therefore expensive electro-mechanical machines, unlike toasters and washing machines”, Harden mentions. “For a robot to do just the most basic things like pick up laundry, fetch a drink or clean a countertop, without crashing into furniture, dropping valuables, spilling milk, or running over your dog is tough. It needs to know where itself is in the house, where and when it needs to go to perform a task, how to identify objects, how to retrieve and manipulate those objects, and how to respond to people and pets.” It’s a complicated problem where the hardware and software rely on each other so closely, there’s extremely little room for error.

The 2021 IDEA Award-winning MARTIAN Robot

A robot that performs tasks that a human/animal can do, eventually looks like a human/animal…

The California-based design studio’s tryst with domestic service robots started with robotics research lab Willow Garage who needed a robot that could assist with simple household chores. The funding dried up midway as Willow Garage shut shop in 2013, but it allowed Whipsaw to cement relationships with other clients with a keen interest in robotics, namely SRI (Stanford Research Institute), Rosie Robotics, Bizzy Robotics, and Aeolus Robotics, all of whom envisioned a simple low-cost home service robot. For Whipsaw, however, the design brief was a little more nuanced – “What should this home robot look like?” Was it better to be functional, honest, and minimal, or have it be more expressive or even human-looking? “Our opinion was to make it what it wanted to be – a purposeful and efficient tool with self-explanatory design cues and details”, Harden explained. However, as they started designing it, they soon realized that it was hard not to look like some type of creature. By the time you put cameras where they need to be in order for the robot to see, arms that can reach and lift, and hands to grasp objects, you inevitably end up building some form of ‘animal’. Harden admitted, “We decided to embrace that logical consequence and just let these necessary elements define the robot’s identity.”

KODA Robot Dog

KODA Robot Dog – The first consumer-based robot dog to run on a Blockchain Network

Around 2018, Whipsaw was also approached by KODA Inc. to help integrate their revolutionary fusion multi-processor and AI-based software into a robot. The KODA Robot Dog holds the title for being the first high-end domestic robot-dog running on a decentralized blockchain network, with its ‘own brain’ – an 11 teraflop processor capable of A.I. machine-learning. The dog-type quadruped robot relied on a decentralized network to share data and optimize behavior, making all KODA dogs smarter by relying on a hive-mind of sorts. “For example, a KODA dog in Phoenix can use the knowledge it automatically receives from other KODAs that are based in colder climates, like Anchorage, Alaska or Toronto, Canada”, Harden mentions to Yanko Design. “Without ever having set foot on ice, the KODA in Phoenix will learn how to avoid slipping. This includes warning its owner as well.” Armed with that incredibly powerful software, Whipsaw’s design took an interesting-yet-logical decision of ensuring the KODA robot dog (as intelligent and capable as it was) still retained a friendly, cute demeanor.

Functionally, KODA was designed to assist the human condition. Fulfilling the myriad of roles and responsibilities of dogs, the KODA monitor and protect properties; help disabled people see and navigate safely; play with and teach children; and serves as a tech learning platform for individuals, schools, and robotic research institutions. For Whipsaw though, the roles and responsibilities of KODA set a variety of constraints. The aesthetics of KODA had to be just right. If it looked too dog-like it would be weird. If it was not dog-like at all, it would be an unfriendly machine. Every aesthetic decision had to be respectful of this perception, while at the same time taking on the mammoth task of integrating all the components and sensors into the robot’s animal form. The result was an incredibly sleek canine-inspired bot with four 3D surround-view cameras and 14 motors, including in the neck and tail, which gave it dog-like gestural qualities. If you had to assign a breed to KODA, Whipsaw’s team says it’s a cross between a friendly labrador and an athletic and slightly intimidating Doberman. It can run at a respectable speed of 2 meters a second, climb stairs, monitor large areas with its sensors and cameras, and even respond to its owner’s commands as well as their emotions – a testament to the dog’s incredible AI brain. Whipsaw even designed the dog’s body in a way that put the battery pack in its abdomen… so when KODA needed to recharge, it could simply walk over to its charging station and lay down (quite like a dog resting), bringing its belly in contact with the charge nodes. KODA was unveiled this January 2021 at the virtual CES, and even secured the iF Design Award this year. Today, over 850 people own KODA dogs, either as pets, surveillance dogs, or guide dogs. Yanko Design covered the KODA Robot Dog back in January and you can read more about it here.

The bright future of Domestic Service Robots… and how Industrial Designers can seize this new opportunity

Robots are more than just basic products, they’re entities – this provides Industrial Designers with a massive variety of opportunities that go beyond simply just designing an exterior or ‘solving a problem’. “The mere fact that a robot moves on its own and its scale is close to a human makes it seem alive, including the feeling like it even has emotion. As a designer, you have the opportunity to not only design the thing itself but that emotion too. It’s like adding a fourth “E” dimension to your XYZ design problem”, Harden mentions. It’s a unique and expansive region that covers a lot of different aspects, because robots are inherently very complex systems, and we perceive them differently from a ‘lifeless’ product. As the Industrial Design profession evolves, transitioning from tangible products to intangible ones (I completely fault UI/UX designers for stealing the phrase ‘Product Design’), the area of robotics has a redeeming quality to it, providing a dizzying number of areas of intervention, from form-giving to functional problem solving, user experience, technology integration, machine anthropology, emotional design, and purpose. Harden calls it “a veritable feast of design challenges.”

Bizzy Robot

It’s something Whipsaw’s passionately involved in too. Prior to designing KODA, Whipsaw even worked on the Aeolus R1, a humanoid helper which debuted at CES 2018, the MARTIAN robot, a one-handed robot on wheels, and the BIZZY, another single-armed robot that could be controlled by touch or even respond to voice commands. A winner of the IDEA Award in 2021, Bizzy was equipped with a wide range of motions thanks to the way it was designed, featuring a height-adjusting arm that could reach on countertops to clear up for you and arrange your tables before meals, or even ‘bend down’ to pick up objects from the floor or water your plants.

Rosie Robot Maid

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Whipsaw’s portfolio of work encompasses a healthy variety of tech and innovation-led products, although the massive smart-home industry is merely a stepping stone for the next evolutionary step – domestic service robots… and Whipsaw’s team believes that designers should really feel excited for all the opportunities it brings to help draft the human-robot dynamic and potentially rewrite civilization. In a blog-post on Whipsaw’s site, Harden says “How the human-robot dynamic ultimately influences and changes our society and culture is to be determined, but in the meantime, the design profession should be excited. It has never had a better quest or more interesting subject than the domestic robot.”

Visit the Whipsaw Website to view their latest projects and read more about Design + Robotics on their blog.

Tokyo 2021 Olympics gets a new showstopper – a basketball playing Japanese robot who made a flawless half-court shot!





At the ongoing Tokyo 2021 Olympics, world-class athletes are showcasing their talent, but a robot stole all the limelight during a basketball game between the U.S. and France. Demonstrating the early stages of the machine-dominated dystopian future, the seven-foot robot developed by Toyota engineers scored a perfect three-pointer and half-court shot. The eerily designed robot took to the center stage at halftime break during Sunday’s showdown game that France won by 89-79.  The Toyota engineers have created this free throw shooting robot in their free time over the last couple of years – and at the game – the smart machine beat human players shot for shot. It perfectly landed an easy free throw, a three-pointer, and a flawless half-court shot (just like Stephen Curry) in tandem to wow the crowd!

The robot has a very peculiar bumpy surface, Kawhi Leonard-like big hands, iRobot-like head shape, and moves on two wheels to position itself for the shots. By the look of things, this basketball shooting automaton looks to be the CUE4, the updated version of the CUE3 that set the Guinness world record in 2019. The robot uses sensors on the torso and a camera eye positioned somewhere around the nose to judge the distance of the shot and basket angle. Then the motorized arms and knees flex to make the shot perfectly. However, it is not as advanced to overshadow professional basketball players like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Sue Bird, or A’ja Wilson in a full game. It moves too slowly and the motion is also not that swift. A Toyota engineer said back in 2019 that it will take almost two decades to acquire skills like running or dunking for such robots!

In a free throw duel, this robot is unbeatable since it is consistent day-in and day-out as compared to human counterparts who are vulnerable to mistakes. The robot is designed in a way to repeat the same action with perfect accuracy owning to its AI software and it doesn’t have to deal with its own monsters – things like metal pressure and stress of a big game. Perhaps, Toyota can take design inspiration from Boston Dynamics who have developed some amazing life-like robots like Spot the dog robot and Atlas who made our jaws drop with their dance moved for the New Year’s celebrations.

If this basketball shooting robot can acquire the intelligence and agility of pro basketball players, Mark Cuban would be eyeing to get this basketball robot in his Dallas Mavericks team!

Designer: Toyota

These non-humanoid robots express emotion by reacting to physical touch, just like plants do!





Most often, we only see plants moving and growing when they’re filmed in slow-motion for nature documentaries. But even in those slow scenes, watching plants bloom and grow into themselves feels emotional. It’s like watching a baby tiger wake up from a cat nap on the big screen, except it doesn’t have a face and it’s green, not furry. Inspired by the growth cycle and emotive movement of plant life, student designer Keunwook Kim designed Post-Plant, a collection of non-humanoid robots that respond to and move through non-verbal, physical interaction.

Following a period of researching how humans can read emotion from non-verbal cues, Kim gathered that arousal (dynamic energy), valence (intrinsic attractiveness), and stance (visual disposition) can each be interpreted as signs for emotional analysis. Applying this information to Post-Plant, Kim’s non-humanoid robots do not express emotion through facial expression, but through movement and changing forms. Built into each one of his Post-Plant robots, Kim incorporated a motor interface that combines an input and output system, registering when the robot is touched and responding with movement.

For example, when the top of Kim’s green robot, which could also be an interpretation of Maypole dancing from Midsommar, is turned, the robot responds with arousal, by spinning its ‘leaves.’ Signaling when its valence is turning negative, the Post-Plant robot binds its leaves tightly together. Once those leaves are touched by a human, the robot spins its leaves out once more, indicating a changed, positive valence. Similarly, Post-Plant’s white robot spins its propeller-like leaves in response to being touched but shivers to express unhappiness, indicating a need to be touched once more. By studying how humans read emotion, Kim hopes to cultivate the emotional relationship we have with robots and the potential to express a robot’s emotion through non-humanoid, kinetic gestures.

Designer: Keunwook Kim

Keunwook Kim built three different non-humanoid robots resembling various forms of plant life.

Taking cues from nature, Keunwook Kim researched the different ways humans can read emotion through non-human gestures.

When expressing happiness, this robot spins out its leaves, binding them together to express a negative valence.

This robot spins its propeller-like leaves to express happiness, shivering to express the opposite.

To express happiness, the single electrical string that flows through this robot stands erect.

When unhappy, the string falls limp.

A built-in motor translates input and output information acquired via touch to respond with movement.

To express positive valence, this Post-Plant robot rotates freely.

Spinning its propeller, this robot expresses general contentedness.

Inspired by everyday objects familiar to humans, Kim conceived the form of his non-humanoid robots.

Following multiple iterations, Kim felt inspired by plant life to build the bodies of his robots.

The leaves of this robot seem to be constructed from leather bands.

Whale-inspired underwater drone can carry out rescue operation where humans can’t reach!

Shipwrecks have become more frequent as the number of vessels in the oceans increases due to open trade policies between nations. Owning to their scope and location, shipwreck rescues can become logistically complicated and humanly dangerous to carry out. This is where underwater rescue robots such as the Saver Whale designed after the good sense of whales – that are known to helping people – come into the scene.

The Saver Whale is ideally a concept of an underwater drone designed to reach where human rescuers can’t – or shouldn’t – go. Lots of human live-saving deep water rescues happen in challenging, dangerous conditions which are difficult for diving squads to negotiate without risking injury or loss of life. Maritime rescue drones such as the Saver Whale can reach uncharted waters – reducing risk to human life – and work as scouts to deliver medical and equipment to liberate any trapped or sinking soul.

The Saver Whale, equipped with cameras, sonar, and radar for detection, and a radio system for communication, can be deployed from the helicopter, to venture into depths of the hostile waters of the ocean where sending human is riskier. The drone, on detecting a survivor or diseased and can instantly relay the message to the rescue team and request assistance. In addition to calling out for backup and relaying its live location, this versatile sub can equip the survivor with a life vest, rope, and other gear from the first aid kit onboard.

Interestingly, the Saver Whale is also conceptualized to shoot out a net on a dead body located, to fix its position, so it’s not lost in the water current. There are already a range of rescue robots that can crawl in the rubble, fly over fires, and swim in deep waters to help first responders in executing operations. Yet, Saver Whale with its payload carrying capacity and more organized approach can definitely go through improvisations to one day dive to the ocean beds in search of marine accident victims.

Designer: Lim do-hwi

 

 

This fully automated bionic coffee maker is just like a robot straight from The Jetsons!

If you sometimes feel like a robot before your first cup of coffee, you’re in good company. Without even fully opening my eyes, I get my first cup of coffee going for the morning, and while it brews I get myself ready. On good days, I turn my stove off on time, and on other days, I gulp down a burnt cup of coffee. Coffee is a necessary part of the day for a lot of us and having that perfect cup in the morning might be all we need to get our day off on the right foot. To save us from those ‘other days,’ Beijing’s Orion Star Technology Co. Ltd. recently designed a robotic coffeemaking system, the Zhi Ka Master that was shortlisted at 2021’s iF Design Awards.

Zhi Ka Master is a coffee-making system that employs the use of twin-arm robotics to perform traditional coffee and tea brewing for hand-poured, automated cups of coffee. The entire system comprises a twin-arm, six-axis robot and accompanying work table. Twin-arm robotic systems are typically chosen for their efficient and automated execution of more involved assembly operations. Through bi-manual manipulation, twin-arm robots can perform complicated tasks in a human-like manner. The incorporation of twin-arm robotics for Zhi Ka Master and a bionic profile design equips the robot with enough know-how to stimulate masterful coffee or tea-making methods with the push of a button. A pre-sized and programmed worktable is used to keep all the machines and tools necessary to make any drink on a typical coffee menu.

You’re like me if your coffee order comes with some conditions: an extra shot of espresso please and not too much ice. Rest assured, Zhi Ka Master knows how to receive special input for specific coffee orders that veer from the menu. Through integrated software, Zhi Ka Master can make coffee and tea drinks for specific tastes all without human intervention. So maybe, don’t push that button.

Designer: Orion Star Technology Co. Ltd.

Zhi Ka Master is a six-axis, twin-arm robot coffeemaker.

Integrated software adjusts the robot’s mechanical grip to fit whatever item it grasps.

Through a built-in RGB camera, the robot performs duties and responds to feedback in real-time to ensure safe operation.

Equipped with an emergency stop button, Zhi Ka Master prioritizes safety even before coffee.

Zhi Ka Master occupies a total of only three square meters.

Boston Dynamics’ latest robot moves away from biomimicry to design a practical warehouse solution!





Thirty years ago, starting out as a tightknit research company, Boston Dynamics began its quest to create robots that could go where people go, do what people do, and move as people move. Today, a leading engineering and robotics design company, the team behind Boston Dynamics continues to produce and deliver commercial robotics equipped with dynamic control, cutting-edge electronics, and next-generation software. Designed for easy rollout servicing in existing warehouses, Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ latest mobile, automated case-handling robot.

In appearance, Stretch resembles an excavator or backhoe construction truck, with a solid, bottom-heavy base and tensile robotic arm. Filled out with four small wheels for tight turning and lots of movement, Stretch’s mobile base is capable of sliding in every direction and designed to allow the fuller robot to fit anywhere a pallet fits. The long robotic arm provides plenty of reach and height with seven degrees-of-freedom, granting Stretch access to cases and shipping goods throughout any freight space or pallet.

At the end of Stretch’s robotic arm, a smart gripper embedded with sensors and active controls grants Stretch with handling mechanisms to grasp a wide array of different types of packages. Keeping the whole operation going throughout the workday are high-capacity batteries and an advanced perception mast for long-lasting, precise, and stable power. Speaking of how Stretch differentiates the currently saturated truck unloading robots, palletizing and depalletizing robots, and mobile bases with arms, Kevin Blankespoor, Boston Dynamics’ VP of Product Engineering and chief engineer for both Handle and Stretch says “Stretch is built with pieces from Spot and Atlas and that gave us a big head start. For example, if you look at Stretch’s vision system, it’s 2D cameras, depth sensors, and software that allows it to do obstacle detection, box detection, and localization. Those are all the same sensors and software that we’ve been using for years on our legged robots. And if you look closely at Stretch’s wrist joints, they’re actually the same as Spot’s hips. They use the same electric motors, the same gearboxes, the same sensors, and they even have the same closed-loop controller controlling the joints.”

While Stretch is still a prototype, the wheeled robot is the commercial version of a smaller, earlier model from Boston Dynamics called Handle. Stretch currently enacts unloading and building applications for trucks and warehouses, with future plans for truck loading in the works for Boston Dynamics. While the team behind Stretch has yet to name a price, Boston Dynamics is working to make the case-handling robot compatible with other warehouse systems.

Designer: Boston Dynamics

Four wheels fill out Stetch’s mobile base, allowing it to fit anywhere a shipping pallet fits.

Smart gripping technology allows Stretch to reach for and take hold of a multitude of varying package types.

Stretch’s lengthy robotic arm grants the robot access to packages throughout the warehouse and full extension for easy rollout.

The team at Boston Dynamic equipped Stretch with seven degrees-of-freedom, providing plenty of reach and height.

Stretch was designed for warehouse case-handling and truck unloading.