Robots Replace Macy's Balloons

Tomorrow is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and Julius the Monkey’s big debut as 200 ft balloon.  Being a New Yorker, I have watched numerous times the people anchoring the giant inflatable floats struggle below with 50 mile hour winds.  To a robot aficionado, this picture is awfully antiquated.

Three million people watch the parade a year, and in the future they will see robots marching down Broadway on its way to attack Herald Square and Santa.  Instead of people holding down the balloons, they will be riding on top like cowboys.  The above video highlights a new inflatable robot design called “Ant-Roach” conceptualized by Otherlab.

The Ant-Roach robot weighs only 70 lbs and can support more than 1,000 more on its back. The inflatable architecture  uses “four independently controllable pneumatic bags” that enable it to move by leveraging “a sequence of inflating and deflating which allows walking, turning, and even swimming.”  Otherlab is working on new inflatable robots including a pneumatic arm and hand and omni-crawler, offering an inexpensive and safe alternative to the existing parade balloons.

My money is on the roach in taking down the wimpy monkey, until then Happy Thanksgiving!

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