It’s a quiet week here at IEEE Spectrum, so we wanted to give loyal readers something fun to chew on. For an end-of-year treat, enjoy this photo-video compilation of animals interacting with gadgets.
With more electronic devices in the world than ever before, domestic and wild animals can’t help but run up against these strange-looking objects in their daily lives. And how they react to a device says a lot about how they perceive it—as a type of food, a potential threat, or a new friend.
In 2016, IEEE Spectrum contributing editor Evan Ackerman reported that the Dutch National Police was training eagles to capture problematic drones in mid-air. A few weeks ago, he found out the program was cancelled, partly because “there just wasn’t a lot of demand for the anti-drone eagle squad.”
Gif: Dutch National Police/Guard From Above/IEEE Spectrum
Earlier this year, Ackerman took his GoPro on a snorkeling trip in the Galapagos Islands. It must have looked pretty tasty to this sea lion.
Gif: Evan Ackerman
In Indonesia, Ackerman captured this curious Komodo dragon, which uses its forked tongue to smell, licking the camera.
Gif: Evan Ackerman
The roboticists at Boston Dynamics unveiled an autonomous quadruped named Spot in 2015. Here, a brave dog named Fido confronts Spot in a parking lot and refuses to concede any territory to the intruder.
In this video, a cat named Mochi meets the BB-8 Star Wars droid made by Sphero. Mochi is mildly interested and pats it a few times, which is really all you can ask of a cat.
However, as has been chronicled in many, many YouTube videos, cats do seem to love to ride Roombas.
But why should cats have all the fun? This hedgehog has its own set of wheels.
A fierce Pomeranian named Snuggles really does not trust remote controls, and wants to make that very, very clear.
When an elephant finds a camera disguised as a rock, she picks it up and brings it along for a stroll, capturing footage of her own tusk. And when she drops it, a baby elephant grabs it and starts filming.
Researchers made a fuzzy penguin rover that could infiltrate a waddle (or group) of penguins to study them up close. The scientists found that using the penguin rover reduced stress among the penguins compared to when human researchers tried to observe their behavior at close range.
People clearly enjoy taking selfies and maybe animals do, too. This praying mantis certainly seems to like the spotlight.
Photo: Dhyesley B. Gomes
And this cat named Manny has an Instagram account wholly devoted to the selfies it takes with its human and animal friends.
Randi Klett is the photo director at IEEE Spectrum. She's the co-creator of Spectrum's Robots Guide.