Not every robot can be as adorable as the round BB-8 from Star Wars. Some robots can't help but haunt your thoughts with horrifying visions of mechanical mayhem.
Don't look too closely at this animatronic robot dancer or you might not be able to get to sleep tonight. It's a functioning robo-sculpture by artist Jordan Wolfson. In a video demonstration, the dancer shakes and shimmies to pulsing music. It also has facial-recognition technology that lets it home in on the faces of real people looking at it in a mirror. What really puts this into the bizarro realm is the scary goblin mask. Yikes.
Maker Simone Giertz created what may be the world's rudest alarm clock in the form of a robot with a fake human arm. That alone wouldn't be so bad, except it spins around and slaps you in the face when the alarm goes off. It bears an appropriate name: The Wake-Up Machine. At least it will wake you up from nightmares of being chased by a goblin-faced robot dancer.
Some robots really do want our human jobs. The Veebot is a prototype vein-seeking, blood-drawing robot introduced in 2013. It was designed by people who thought it would be a good idea to give a robot a needle. It's actually a pretty clever concept that's supposed to be extremely accurate at finding veins.
We already met the Veebot, a prototype blood-drawing robot. Now meet a robotic printer that uses human blood to make artwork. It was harnessed by artist Ted Lawson, who used his own blood running through the printer to make a self-portrait. Talk about throwing yourself into your work.
Welcome to the Uncanny Valley. This robo-head from Hanson Robotics is covered with a freaky substance called Frubber, a combination of the words "flesh" and "rubber." The bot is named Han and it interacts with people by identifying facial expressions, locking eyes, moving its own face and holding simple conversations. There's no word on whether it can answer the question "What's it like to be so creepy?"
Tom Libby/Kaushik Jayaram/Pauline Jennings/PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley.
The CRAM (Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms) robot was inspired by cockroaches, which can splay out their legs and flatten their bodies to squeeze through tight spaces. It's much bigger than a real cockroach, but it could one day have a future at disaster sites where it could squish itself through rubble to look for survivors. That makes it both creepy and cool.
Boston Dynamics hooked its headless dog-style robots up to a sleigh this past holiday season to frighten young children. OK, that wasn't the real purpose. It was actually the robotics company's way of celebrating the season while showing off its cool creations. It's just that the sight of headless robo-dogs wearing reindeer antlers is so deeply weird.
Michael Campbell/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
Atlas strolls outside
Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot isn't really that frightening all on its own. A video showing it taking an outdoor stroll through the woods, however, adds an element of mild horror to the machine. Just imagine going for a hike. It's getting dark. You hear the faint sounds of mechanical parts clashing. Then you see humanoid Atlas stepping out from between the trees. You better believe you would jump out of your socks.