Video: Fast New Running Robot Is Terrifying

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We know that robots can replace humans for a lot of tasks. Recently, Foxconn, manufacturer of the iPad and iPhone among other things, announced it would buy one million industrial robots. One million!

While, like most of the Internet, I worry consistently about a robot takeover of the world, industrial robots don't really bother me. The Kiva logistics bots are even cute enough that workers give them names and use them to deliver presents to coworkers. What harm could they do? No, stationary robots making iPads I'm cool with.

The robot in the video above, MABEL, is a whole different story. Look at the way that thing runs! Pay special attention to the knees and its gait. MABEL's creators at the University of Michigan like to emphasize that the bot spends 40 percent of its time up in the air just like a real human runner. Hats off to the creators of the technology, but this kind of human-like movement out of a bot is creepy.

MABEL has a top speed of 6.8 miles per hour, which means that most humans could outrun it (her?)... at least for a few miles.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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