[Best of 2014] The Year in Robots

2014 was a high-powered year for robots.

Robots have captured the imaginations of storytellers for centuries, from Asimov's I, Robot to TARS in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, to tales of Hephaestus' bronze sentinel from Ancient Greek mythology. In 2014, we saw dozens of sculptors, engineers, programmers, and installation artists realize their creative visions through androids, automatons, and mechanical arms. While some made us fear the robo-pocalypse and others came unsettlingly close to crossing the uncanny valley, some of the year's most impressive creativity was powered by robotics.

This is the Year in Robots:

+ Last month we wondered whether Patrick Tresset's drawing robot could make art that comments on the human condition.

+ Filmmaker Kevin Margo brought a trio of construction robots to life through cutting-edge motion capture and ray tracing techniques.

Pepper the robot waves its conductor's wand at the audience. GIF by Beckett Mufson via.

+ teamLab taught Pepper the robot to conduct a symphony of lights

Tiny robots work together to take the shape of a star fish. GIF by Beckett Mufson via.

+ In August, MIT researchers taught a swarm of robots to work together autonomously, and a flat robot how to fold itself into existence.

+ We proved our humanity Blade Runner-style by taking the Bot or Not? poetry challenge.

These robotic sculptures made their own light paintings. Image courtesy of Conrad Shawcross, via.

+ Conrad Shawcross and Jeff Crossman trained robotic sculptures and a mechanized robot arm to light paint.

+ In July, we tried to empathize with Louis-Philippe Demers and Bill Vorn's disabled robots.

Peter William Holden's choreographed robots tap danced their way through the Merge Festival in London. Images by Medial Mirage / Matthias Möller

+ One robotic performance group impressed us with its tap dancing skills, while another participated in an elegant ballet.

+ We explored the Tate Modern at night through the eyes of museum-going robots.

+ In April, we jammed out to Squarepusher's new album, which was performed entirely by a robot band.

The SociBot-Mini has the ability to map human faces onto its own. via

+ We got our faces stolen by these human-mimicking robots and our whispers replicated by this one.

+ A nontraditional robotic chef prepared us dinner back in June.

+ And throughout the whole thing, we tuned into Damon Albarn's acoustic concert for androids, featuring songs from his new album, Everyday Robots.

This is the fouth part of our end-of-the-year series. Stay tuned as we continue to look back on 2014 and collect all of our favorite examples of modern creativity, fantastic innovations, and important trends.


[Best of 2014] The Year in Sound

[Best of 2014] The Year in Brains

[Best of 2014] The Year in Sculpture