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Robo-ants the size of your hand could take all our factory jobs

Robo-ants the size of your hand could take all our factory jobs

Humanoid robots have a long tradition in entertainment. A short list includes C-3PO in Star Wars, Data in Star Trek, the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, the Terminators, Maria from Metropolis, and so on.

But the reason humanoid robots are usually the shorthand for "advanced" technology is because they're actually really hard to make. Just balancing on two legs is a serious achievement, much less walking, running, jumping, dancing and carrying other objects. Click here to see some of the most advanced humanoid robots around, and how far they are from human.

Don't forget about the problems of a power source that lasts, usable compact sensors or carrying enough intelligence to actually interact with the world. Put it all together and building a robotic human is a tall order.

Even if you did make a humanoid robot, there's another problem. The human form isn't actually suited to many of the jobs that humans do, which are often jobs we'd have robots do in our place. We've created tools and machines to let us adapt to these jobs, but why not create a robot that doesn't need adapting?

For a factory robot, a single arm on a wheeled base is much more efficient. For military operations, a robot that can fly, move around on treads or has multiple legs is usually better at scouting or carrying heavy objects than a human soldier. And now there's a new way of doing things that could be the most efficient yet.

Next page: The nature-inspired robot that could change everything 
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