Robots that slither, crawl, walk, fly — and rock

Today's robots are rapidly gaining skills to help at home or in the factory, from flipping pancakes to slithering behind dangerous machinery. Some can even jam on the guitar.

"Bones," center, plays the bass in the robot band Compressorhead during the Frankfurt Music Fair in Germany in April this year. "Fingers," left, is on guitar. There's also a robotic drummer, not shown here.

Frank Rumpenhorst / dpa

A robot calledPR2 flips a pancake in a lab kitchen of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the Institute of Informatics and Automation of Bremen University in Bremen, Germany.

Michael Bahlo / dpa

The robot ARMAR IIIa of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) grasps a cup as he helps out in the kitchen in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Tamim Asfour / Tamim Asfour

Snake-like robots such as these designed at the Biorobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University can use their many internal degrees of freedom to thread through tight spaces, accessing locations that people and machinery otherwise cannot use.

Bina48 talks to "her" designing engineer Bruce Duncan, right, at a press conference in Wetzlar, Germany, in March this year. Bina48 has received the biography and identity of a real person. Its system is capable of learning and its artificial intelligence is capable of arguing similar to the way humans do.

Frank Rumpenhorst / DPA

Honda's Asimo, a walking and talking robot, shows off Milmo, a robotic lawnmower. Milmo can maneuver itself on slopes. Miimo goes on sale next year in some regions, and will likely cost up to $3,000.


Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, is pictured onboard the International Space Station. Robonaut was designed to eventually receive legs, and possibly handle tasks too dangerous for astronauts, such as venturing outside the complex to assist spacewalkers.

Nasa / X00653

ICub, a humanoid robot, tries to grab a ball at the Innorobo 2013 European summit in Lyon, France, in March.

Philippe Desmazes / AFP

At Boston Dynamics, the BigDog robot is being developed to help soldiers carry heavy equipment in the field. It can follow a human being, walking across wet, sandy or rocky terrain, just like a dog would.

Boston Globe / Boston Globe

Robots of team SPQR from Italy and of RoboEireann from Ireland compete in the category Standard Platform League at the Robo Cup German Open 2013 in Magdeburg, Germany in April.

Jens Wolf / DPA

A service robot stand at the 2013 RoboCup German Open tournament. The three-day tournament hosted 43 international teams from 14 different countries, plus 158 German junior teams, competing in a variety of disciplines, including soccer, rescue and dance.

Jens Schlueter / Getty Images Europe

Two tentacle-like robot arms built at the Institute of Biorobotic of the Italian University St. Anna School in Pisa.

Afp / AFP

A technician works with Baxter, an adaptive manufacturing robot created by Rethink Robotics at The Rodon Group manufacturing facility in Hatfield, Penn.

Matt Rourke / AP

These tiny winged robots inspired by flies could one day aid the search for survivors at collapse sites, or help pollinate trees and plants — once they get off the leash, that is. They weigh 80 milligrams and have managed short controlled flights by flapping their mechanical wings while still tethered to a tiny power cable.

- / AFP

OSA (Open Source Android) is on display at the Maxon Motor AG booth at the Hannover Fair in Hannover, Germany. Maxon builds micro motors used in the joints of robots.

Marcus Brandt / dpa

An employee adjusts a humanoid robot at the Hannover Fair held in April in Germany. About 6,500 companies take part in the world's biggest industrial technology exhibition.

Jochen Luebke / DPA

The game ball is delivered to the referee by an iRobot 710 Warrior robot before Michigan's NCAA college football spring scrimmage in Ann Arbor, Mich., in April.

Carlos Osorio / AP