The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented

Classic robots are absolutely weird, but there can be something unnerving about seeing dogs, snakes, bees, fish, and birds in robotic form. From uncanny headless creatures to mechanical snakes that can squeeze their way up a person's leg, here are the robotic critters we can't stop staring at.

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RoboBee, Robert Wood's decade-long project at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

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Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented
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(via KurzweilAI and Harvard Robobees)

BigDog, a project started in 2005 by Boston Dynamics, with Harvard University Concord Field Station, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Foster-Miller, funded by DARPA. It's a 3 ft (0.91 m) long robot, weighs 240 lbs. (110 kg) and powered by a 15hp go-kart engine. It could carry 340 pounds (150 kg), run with the speed of 4 mph (6.4 km/h) and climb slopes up to 35 degrees.

Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented
Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented


It has a bigger brother named AlphaDog (LS3). The first two LS3s were demonstrated in September 2012. These are quieter and faster (7 mph) than the originals, plus it could carry 20% more (400 lbs or 181 kg):

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(via Sarah Greve and Wikimedia Commons)

A snake, built by Carnegie Mellon University in 2011, and another one named HiBot ACM-R5H

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Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented

(via gizmag and HiBot)

The original Naro, a 3 ft 3 in (1 m) long tuna-like robot, built mainly from fiberglass by Swiss students at ETH Zurich, 2008-2009

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A pool test:

(via ETH)

Naro-Tartaruga, a sea turtle by some students at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, an ongoing project started in 2010

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Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented

Movement demonstration:

And a pool test:

(via Naro/Facebook)

A white 3D-printed spider by Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, Stuttgart, Germany, 2011, built for various hazardous missions, because contaminated and disaster sites could be easily approached with it.

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(via Fraunhofer Institute)

The Nano Hummingbird, developed by AeroVironment under a DARPA sponsored research contract, 2011

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(via KurzweilAI)

A 4 ft 11 in (1.5 m) long fish that could sniff some contaminants in water, using some micro-electrode arrays. It was built by Shoal Consortium in Spain, during 2012.

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Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented
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(via gizmag)

The robotic cheetah, a project of Boston Dynamics since 2011, funded by DARPA. In September 2012 it broke the previous robot speed record (also did by the Cheetah) with a 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h) run.

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(via DARPA)

Robojelly, powered by hydrogen, so its fuel never runs out, designed as a surveillance unit for the U.S. Navy by University of Texas and Virginia Tech in 2012.

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Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented

(via Popular Science and SubSea World News)

Festo's BionicKangaroo and SmartBird, a robotic seagull, with a wingspan of 6.4 ft (1.96 m)

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Illustration for article titled The Most Uncanny Robotic Animals That Humankind Has Ever Invented

(via gizmag)

The Chinese copy of BigDog, showcased at the 2014 Beijing International Emergency Rescue Expo. It's slower, weaker and a less successful climber, but works.

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DISCUSSION

Ugh, BigDog will never not freak me out a little bit.

There was a guy in one of my previous poetry workshops that wrote a whole series of poems about BigDog that were titled things like, "BigDog Gets a Bath" or "BigDog Goes on Vacation," and he used to take a large amount of delight showing people who had no idea what he was writing about videos and watching them react.