It's been years since evolution gave us anything cool, but every day seems to bring word of a new robot invented to do yet another job better than we can. Fortunately, there's one uniquely human trait that robots haven't yet mastered: passive aggression. As our window of time ruling Earth is slammed shut on our fleshy, poorly designed fingers, humanity is making one last stand, and our weapon of choice is humiliation.
5Make Me Pancakes, Robot
Bomb defusing robots are some of the most advanced in existence. They cost $225,000 each and are incredibly difficult to use. As such, the police officers who control the robots spend a lot of time training. And then sometimes they get bored with training and make their robots do incredibly stupid things to remind them who's calling the shots.
Two members of a bomb squad give their robotic teammate the silent treatment.
Recently, police from all over New Mexico met for a "robot rodeo." Unfortunately, that doesn't mean robots riding pissed-off bulls for eight seconds (or this list would be called "The 1 Most Awesome Thing People Do With Robots"). No, the controllers took their robots through a series of tests like "[an] obstacle course, simulated attacks, [and] cooperation exercises" all things that help the controllers test the skills they would need in real life-threatening situations. And then they made the robots cook them pancakes.
In a competition that has no bearing what-so-ever on anything these robots will ever face in the field, they were forced to make four pancakes each, from scratch. The robots were then judged on how yummy the pancakes they produced were. And by judged, I mean bitch-slapped. One judge, tasting an undercooked pancake informed the robot (yes, the robot, not the controller), "It wasn't even so-so. It was just so." When you spend your workday one wrong move away from getting fired for blowing up the robot, we'd imagine that feels pretty good.
Robot soccer is a big deal. Started in 1995, they hold World Cups just like in regular soccer. These championships are huge, with over 150 teams from around the world competing for all the glory and panties that winning a robot sport brings with it. All of which is exceedingly strange because robots playing soccer manages to make both robotics and soccer look even more boring than anyone ever thought they could possibly be.
The uploader of this video featuring the 2007 final describes it as "one of the best humanoid soccer games ever, if not the best." If you don't have time to watch it, allow us to sum it up for you with these two screen caps. Here we are six seconds in as the robot on offense begins moving toward the ball to kick it.
And here we are seven seconds later as the robot finally reaches the ball, lifts its leg and prepares to kick it.
It turns out that modern robots are uniquely ill-suited for soccer. They just don't have the walking thing down yet. Of course, robots shouldn't have to have feet at all, since they can just roll around on wheels. Soccer is literally the only sport that could make robots look this bad.
So why is it the only robot sport with an international governing body (the Federation of International Robot-Soccer Association or FIRA)? I mean, there are clearly better things we can be doing with robots. A robot in Germany drove a car through traffic at speeds up to 158 mph on the Autobahn without human intervention. Apparently we've decided that watching robots awkwardly stumble around a small soccer pitch is less depressing than trying to out run that thing.