I'm a huge fan of TED Talks -- high production quality talks given by the world's thought leaders, recorded and distributed for all after the annual TED conference. I've noticed that robotics is a perennial hot topic, so naturally I thought: "I should build a compendium of TED talks about robotics (all on one page)." And so here it is... all 21 of the TED talks that have graced the TED.com frontpage to date. But alas, TED has expanded beyond the confines of the annual (expensive!) conference. There are now dozens of TEDx events (independently organized TED meetups) around the world, and robots are equally popular at these satellite events. So... I guess this will just have to be turned into a series. These videos should get you started. Enjoy!
Oh, and a brief self-serving note to Mr. Chris Anderson (curator of TED): I'd be very happy to attend the conference next year. Think you could swing an invite? I'm always available to give a talk too... ;-)
Now, in no particular order...
Plenty of robots can fly -- but none can fly like a real bird. That is, until Markus Fischer and his team at Festo built SmartBird, a large, lightweight robot, modeled on a seagull, that flies by flapping its wings. A soaring demo fresh from TEDGlobal 2011.
Bill Stone, a maverick cave explorer who has plumbed Earth's deepest abysses, discusses his efforts to mine lunar ice for space fuel and to build an autonomous robot for studying Jupiter's moon Europa.
Hod Lipson demonstrates a few of his cool little robots, which have the ability to learn, understand themselves and even self-replicate.
Pleo the robot dinosaur acts like a living pet -- exploring, cuddling, playing, reacting and learning. Inventor Caleb Chung talks about Pleo and his wild toy career at EG07, on the week that Pleo shipped to stores for the first time.
In this prophetic talk from 2003, roboticist Rodney Brooks talks about how robots are going to work their way into our lives -- starting with toys and moving into household chores ... and beyond.
In this powerful talk, P.W. Singer shows how the widespread use of robots in war is changing the realities of combat. He shows us scenarios straight out of science fiction -- that now may not be so fictitious.
Surgeon and inventor Catherine Mohr tours the history of surgery (and its pre-painkiller, pre-antiseptic past), then demos some of the newest tools for surgery through tiny incisions, performed using nimble robot hands. Fascinating -- but not for the squeamish.
Golan Levin, an artist and engineer, uses modern tools -- robotics, new software, cognitive research -- to make artworks that surprise and delight. Watch as sounds become shapes, bodies create paintings, and a curious eye looks back at the curious viewer.
David Hanson's robot faces look and act like yours: They recognize and respond to emotion, and make expressions of their own. Here, an "emotional" live demo of the Einstein robot offers a peek at a future where robots truly mimic humans.
At TEDxNASA, Dennis Hong introduces seven award-winning, all-terrain robots -- like the humanoid, soccer-playing DARwIn and the cliff-gripping CLIMBeR -- all built by his team at RoMeLa, Virginia Tech. Watch to the end to hear the five creative secrets to his lab's incredible technical success.
In this first-of-its-kind demo, Heather Knight introduces Data, a robotic stand-up comedian that does much more than rattle off one-liners -- it gathers audience feedback (using software co-developed with Scott Satkin and Varun Ramakrishna at CMU) and tunes its act as the crowd responds. Is this thing on?
As a grad student, Cynthia Breazeal wondered why we were using robots on Mars, but not in our living rooms. The key, she realized: training robots to interact with people. Now she dreams up and builds robots that teach, learn -- and play. Watch for amazing demo footage of a new interactive game for kids.
Eythor Bender of Berkeley Bionics brings onstage two amazing exoskeletons, HULC and eLEGS -- robotic add-ons that could one day allow a human to carry 200 pounds without tiring, or allow a wheelchair user to stand and walk. It's a powerful onstage demo, with implications for human potential of all kinds.
Using robotics, laser rangefinders, GPS and smart feedback tools, Dennis Hong is building a car for drivers who are blind. It's not a "self-driving" car, he's careful to note, but a car in which a non-sighted driver can determine speed, proximity and route -- and drive independently.
Inventor Dean Kamen previews the prosthetic arm he's developing at the request of the US Department of Defense. His quiet commitment to using technology to solve problems -- while honoring the human spirit -- has never been more clear.
At Serious Play 2008, Charles Elachi shares stories from NASA's legendary Jet Propulsion Lab -- including tales and video from the Mars Rover project.
Sebastian Thrun helped build Google's amazing driverless car, powered by a very personal quest to save lives and reduce traffic accidents. Jawdropping video shows the DARPA Challenge-winning car motoring through busy city traffic with no one behind the wheel, and dramatic test drive footage from TED2011 demonstrates how fast the thing can really go.
Biologist Robert Full shares slo-mo video of some captivating critters. Take a closer look at the spiny legs that allow cockroaches to scuttle across mesh and the nanobristle-packed feet that let geckos to run straight up walls.
Insects and animals have evolved some amazing skills -- but, as Robert Full notes, many animals are actually over-engineered. The trick is to copy only what's necessary. He shows how human engineers can learn from animals' tricks.
Artist Theo Jansen demonstrates the amazingly lifelike kinetic sculptures he builds from plastic tubes and lemonade bottles. His creatures are designed to move -- and even survive -- on their own.
Onstage at TEDGlobal, Péter Fankhauser demonstrates Rezero, a robot that balances on a ball. Designed and built by a group of engineering students, Rezero is the first ballbot made to move quickly and gracefully -- and even dance.