Robots have been a fascination of kids and scientists alike for generations. But while we've grown used to the idea of robots in our lives, from the mechanical arms that manufacture our automobiles to the more whimsical robot housekeepers and servers coming out of Japan design labs, there are far more high-tech robots being created that put us on the edge of our seats. Here are five of those strange and fascinating new inventions that call into question everything from the need for our flesh-and-bone bodies to human consciousness.
World-reknowned inventor Dean Kamen travels the world for amazing innovations like these. Don't miss his adventures on Dean of Invention Fridays at 10 pm on Planet Green, and see exclusive video footage and slideshows of the future.
The N55 Walking House seems like a perfect idea for those living on coastlines where sea level rise is taking over real estate. When high tide is lapping at your foundation, you can just up and walk the house somewhere else! But there are few things that make you feel like you're in an Orson Wells world as seeing a house crawl away on six legs.
While that's strange, this smaller, faster robot is even more disconcerting:
Controlling something with your thoughts. It's been the trick so many magicians and inspirational speakers hold up their sleeves. However, it's not smoke and mirrors anymore, as this wheelchair proves. Researchers have figured out a way to link up a person's mind with a chair's onboard computer, so thinking about going left results in the chair actually moving left.
But that wheelchair has nothing on this monkey and its mechanical arm:
This is an invention working to cure paralysis, similar to the chair above. Lead researcher Andrew Schwartz states that this work will help restore mobility for para- and quadriplegics.
It's one thing to control a robot with just your thoughts. But what if that robot had thoughts of its own? Here is one experiment to see if a robot can have a soul shown off on a recent episode of Dean of Invention:
Our definition of being human is being shaken by the work that this team is doing to create a robot that is, in some ways, "alive." If all the movies about robots gaining consciousness and taking over the world are running through you head right now, you're not alone.
Rather than those old-fashioned things called mules, these robots are a new high-tech pack-horse -- no feeding or sleep required, and they never get tired. Just a boost of fuel and they're good to cross miles of tough terrain.