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2017 was the start of the highly dubious, yet regularly and famously predicted robot takeover. Boiling under the surface for the last few years, artificial intelligence has truly come to light in products across the technology spectrum, from automotive to headphone design. This increased level of smartness has not only resulted in ultra intelligent, human-like robots but also more clever tools and downright playful toys. From impressive demonstrations to product announcements and even momentous occasions as robots are being recognized with country citizenship.

Here are the Top 10 robots of 2017, we look back at ten robotic and artificial intelligence stories that grabbed our attention over the past 12 months.


#1. Hanson Robotics Sophia

Created by Hanson Robotics, Sophia the robot made her debut at the South by Southwest show in March 2016 and since then has become somewhat of a media personality. Having spoken at the United States and appeared on the Jimmy Fallon Show. Sophia can animate a full range of facial expressions and is able to track and recognize faces, look people in the eyes and hold natural conversations. 2017 also saw Sophia become a citizen of Saudi Arabia, making it the first country in history to do so for a robot.


#2. Mayfield Robotics Kuri

Mayfield Robotics unveiled the intelligent Kuri robot at the CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas. Characterized by personality, awareness and mobility, the robot is said to "add a spark of life to any home".
The smart bot can understand context and surroundings, recognize specific people and respond to questions with facial expressions, head movements, and unique sounds. Sourcing the many beloved robots of pop-culture – like R2-D2 and WALL-E – this mechanical buddy can also be defined by its adorable personality and extraordinary connectivity abilities.


#3. Sony Aibo

Sony announced the release of its latest robotic dog, Aibo. This evolution of the autonomous robot can "form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion," says Sony.

Featuring a dynamic range of movements and eager responsiveness, the puppy-bot also develops its own unique personality as it grows closer to its owners. It uses ultracompact 1- and 2-axis actuators to give its compact body the freedom to move along a total of 22 axes.


#4. Stanford University Snake robot

Stanford University researchers developed a snake-like robot that grows like a vine by squeezing through hard to reach places. The aim of the prototype is to act as a search and rescue device, moving through rubble and small openings in order to reach trapped survivors by delivering them water.

The snake starts as a rolled up inside out tube with a pump on one end and a camera positioned on the other side. Once initiated, the device inflates and grows in the direction of the camera, while the other side stays the same.


#5. Festo Octopusgripper

Inspired by the octopus that has no hard skeleton and is made almost entirely of soft muscle, Festo applied this to their concept of the soft robotic-gripper. The resulting creation is the Octopusgripper robotic arm; a flexible, silicone structure fitted with two rows of suction cups, just like its natural model.

The Octopusgripper robot is the latest work of the company's bionic learning network – a series of robot's that use biology as a model – copying the grip mechanisms of different animals. Once compressed air has been applied and the tentacles curls inwards, it wraps around the object, where a vacuum is used to power its suction cups.


#6. Honda E2-DR

Honda revealed the E2-DR at IROS 2017. The E2-DR is a prototype for a disaster relief, who has the ability to grasp bars, adjust its hips and walk in an upright position like a human. The robot is flexible, strong and waterproof and it is capable of handling a variety of different potential issues caused by a disastrous situation.

The E2-DR is 1.68 meters high and 85 kilograms in weight, Honda kept the robot's size to a minimum and was done by swapping out standard communication cables for optical fibre, which are eight times smaller. It can squeeze through 30-cm gaps and has 33-degrees of freedom, whilst grease us used to keep contaminants out of its joints.


#7. Boston Dynamic Handle

The Google-owned robotics firm Boston Dynamics released a video of their latest creation, which goes by the name of Handle. Unlike some of the company's previously showcased robots that stand up – either on two or four legs – Handle navigates on two small wheels. The human-like robot can roll back and forth, go down steps, spin in circles, jump, squat, and pick up crates. It can also navigate down snowy hills and perform stunts that seem more suited to pro-skateboarder than a research robot.


#8. Piaggio Gita Cargo bot

This is one nifty little robot, designed to carry your stuff for you. The Gita Cargo Bot frees up your hands so you can get on with what is important. Designed to be smart and nimble, the bot has been engineered with details such as safety, braking, balancing, dynamics and performance just like a motorcycle or car.

Taking the form of a bright blue orb, it is equipped with a wheel on either side of the central compartment, which opens up to reveal its storage area, where you can put your belongings, packages and valuables. The Gita can move at a variety of speeds, from a snail's pace to a sprint, indoors and outdoors. The robot can even match human levels of mobility.


#9. NASA Puffer

PUFFER is a print sized space rover from NASA. Short for Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot, the structure of PUFFER takes influence from origami, folding and expanding to allow the friendly-looking bot to roam where no space rover has ever gone before.

The creature's lightweight design is capable of completely flattening itself, tucking in its wheels and crawling into corners where other large robots cannot fit.


#10. Honda 3E Robotics concept

Announced before the CES 2018, the cute but very helpful team of Honda 3E robotic concept, are set to be shown at the technology show in Las Vegas. With experimental technologies, the designs are intended to be used to advance mobility and make people's lives better, matching the Japanese company's over-arching vision.

Standing for empowering, experience and empathy, the four – 3E-A18, 3E-B18, 3E-C18, 3E-D18 – bots are designed to assist people in many situations, from natural disasters to recreation.


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