Robotics as an evolving field inspires a lot of excitement and fear into the hearts of people young and old, as the technology holds potential for both wonderful benefits and terrifying disruption.
This list was originally published on June 26, 2014, republished on August 4 to include a new robot.
According to Pew research, 65% of US adults think it would be bad for lifelike robots to, say, become the primary caregivers for the elderly and people in poor health.
But there are plenty of purposes robots can serve that are less of a threat to jobs or the planet — indeed, some are of little use at all, save for entertainment and giggles.
Here are five weird robots you’ll probably never need in your life, but which are pretty rad nonetheless.
1. Hitchhiking robot [added 8/4/14]
Canadian robot hitchBOT is making its way 4,000 miles across Canada. Equipped with basic AI, speech recognition, social media and other tools, the robot bums rides with travelers and documents its journey with GPS, Instagram, and Twitter.
Already, the bot has made it from Ontario to just west of Toronto on its adventure toward British Columbia.
Useless because: This robot depends on humans rather than humans depending on it, reversing the usual nature of human/bot relationships. It also chatters a lot.
Cool because: hitchBOT, as performance art and a social experiment, is part of a dynamic and interesting project that showcases an amiable buddy system between people and technology.
1. Spider robot dress
Fashion and robotics collide with this look, created by high-tech fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht: a dress with six robotic spider limbs on its shoulder that respond to movement to protect the wearer.
Useless because: Wearing it would make it difficult to make friends (#foreveralone).
Cool because: Look like a super villain; intimidate the world; never get messed with on the subway.
2. Rock paper scissors robot
Japanese scientists at the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory developed a bot called Janken that uses high-speed visual recognition and reaction to always win at Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Useless because: You will always lose to this robot, which is bad for self esteem.
Cool because: Used to your advantage against others, you may always get your way.
3. Pole dancing robots
German developer Torbit Software has actually invented pole dancing robotic strippers. And though they look a lot more like space troopers than go go dancers, they have some titillating moves.
Useless because: Why? Seriously – why.
Cool because: Would make for a truly memorable Bachelor’s party.
4. Self-assembling robots
Dubbed the easy-bake bot by the media, MIT researchers heated up polymer sheets, which fold and assemble into 3D robotic structures. Even better is the modular self-assembling furniture robot from the Biorobotics Laboratory at École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, designed to change form according to task.
Useless because: Most prefer their tables to be stable, not wandering about shiftily.
Cool because: Transformers, for your home!
5. Bad breath robot
Japanese robotic researchers from the group sincerely called Crazy Labo created a robot woman named Kaori that can detect bad breath, as well as a robotic dog that can smell stinky feet. Crazy Labo also has made a robotic butt and a coat that hugs people.
Useless because: You shouldn’t have to breathe into the face of a robot lady to know if your breath smells bad.
Cool because: Sometimes people really don’t know, and the entire world will be thankful when Kaori tells them she’s “declaring a state of emergency; this crosses the permitted limit”.
Know of any other radical robots? Tweet us @Curiousmatic; we may update this living listicle to reflect your suggestion.