Ladbybird Ladbybird The Ladybird robot is capable of protecting valuable crops. (Photo: University of Sydney)

5 cool new robot inventions

These amazing robots do everything from fixing spinal injuries to protecting crops from pests.

Whether printing your term paper or cleaning solar panels, robots are everywhere these days. These five recent inventions highlight the next wave of robotic technological innovation. Check out the amazing things they're capable of doing.


Bring your doctor to your bedside

You've no doubt heard of the Roomba robotic vacuum made by iRobot. Well here's the next big thing from the company. Their RP-VITA is a robotic communications portal for hospitals. It travels from room to room and allows face-to-face (well, face-to-monitor) communication between patients and doctors. The device can be controlled with an iPad tablet and is fully capable of navigating itself through hospital hallways. Most importantly, it's HIPAA compliant, meaning the medical communications are secure and protected.

Repair backs - and brains

Sticking with the hospital theme, Israeli company Mazor Robotics has developed new devices capable of incredibly precise neurosurgery. As shown in the video playlist above, the devices have already been used for spinal surgery, and earlier this month the company sold its first robot module for brain surgery. The Renaissance system will be of use in treating movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. The system is expected to be in use in more hospitals soon.

Drive your car

You may not think of cars as robots, but self-driving vehicles are just around the corner. Many industry experts say autonomous cars will hit the mass market by the year 2020. Leading the pack in the field is Google, which has already logged more than 300,000 miles of test drives. Google says driverless cars, which are basically robots that can transport people, could save more than 1 million lives every year by avoiding auto accidents caused by human error.

Keep a watchful eye on crops

Farming is a risky profession: one swarm of insects and an entire crop can be lost. But researchers from the University of Sydney have a possible solution. Their Ladybird robot is capable of autonomously monitoring crops for dangers through the use of lasers, cameras and other sensors. The device is actually a lot less intrusive than the larger farm equipment currently used to assess the health of crops and can quickly move up, down and between rows of plants without disturbing valuable crops.

Help you walk after a spinal injury

Some robots work on their own, while others work with humans. Here's one that works for humans. ReWalk is a robotic device — technically an exoskeleton — that can help people with spinal cord injuries to walk again. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Israel-based Argo Medical's device in June, meaning it can be used outside of a hospital setting. Argo has more than a technological stake in the device: ReWalk was invented by company founder Dr. Amit Goffer, who was paralyzed in an ATV accident back in 2001.


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