Meet Robear, a Strong Robot with a Gentle Touch

Published June 9, 2015

 

It’s hard to keep up with all the advancements in robotics these days; change is happening at breakneck speed.

One advancement that came to our attention recently is a new Japanese invention called “Robear”. Due to Japan’s rapidly aging population and the availability of too few skilled caregivers, they’ve developed a robotic device that can help with all sorts of tasks. Robear, a robot nurse that looks like a bear, can even lift patients into wheelchairs.

And hot off the press, a South Korean group has just invented a robot that can go to disaster sites and perform tasks that are too dangerous for human beings to do.
But that’s just an interesting aside. This post is really about robots and construction, and an amazing new application of science to an age-old trade.
A group of engineering and computer science experts from Harvard were inspired by the behaviour of termites to create robots they call “Termes”. Working independently but in a coordinated way, termites are able to construct very large, complex structures.

The Termes work in much the same manner. They are programmed to follow a set of directions or “traffic rules” in order to build a specific structure. The amazing thing is that these little robots are able to sense what is going on around them and adjust their movements accordingly.

Imagine handing over a set of blueprints to a squad of robots and leaving them to do their work, with no human oversight required!

At this stage, the robots are only a prototype. In their experiments, the Harvard team has successfully had the robots build a range of structures like castles and towers, using specially designed bricks. The prototype robots are about the size of a cigar box but they can be made both larger and smaller. The idea is that they will be able to help on construction sites with simple tasks.

Humans will always be needed in the construction field, but it’s certainly interesting (if not welcome) to think that these labouring robots could some day soon take on the more monotonous tasks involved in building.

So, that’s something to watch for!