I think we might need one of these to stay ahead of the perpetual chaos that is the Casa de Animal: Advanced Humanoid Roboy to be ‘Born’ in Nine Months. Excerpt:
Meet Roboy, “one of the most advanced humanoid robots,” say researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich.
Their 15 project partners and over 40 engineers and scientists are constructing Roboy as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings (robots usually have their motors in their joints, giving them that “robot” break-dance look), so it will move almost as elegantly as a human.
Roboy will be a “service robot,” meaning it will execute services independently for the convenience of human beings, as in the movie Robot & Frank.
And since service robots share their “living space” with people, user-friendliness and safety, above all, are of great importance, roboticists point out.
Which is why “soft robotics” — soft to the touch, soft in their interaction, soft and natural in their movements — will be important, and Roboy will be covered with “soft skin,” making interacting with him safer and more pleasant.
Let’s… just leave the “soft skin” topic alone for a second, lest we wander off into a discussion of a development in robotics that is perhaps inevitable. What is interesting about this movement in robotics is this: The development of an affordable personal service ‘bot could do for humaniform robots what Windows and the PC did for computing, namely, to make it easy and affordable for the main run of folks to have one in their home. Think on that for a moment; even if a ‘bot cost, say, as much as an inexpensive car, what would it be worth to never again have to bother with household chores such as:
- Cleaning the gutters
- Cutting the grass
- Emptying the cat box
- Cleaning the bathrooms
- Taking out the trash
The list potentially goes on and on.
Of course, there’s no guarantee the first-generation Roboy be able to do all (or, indeed, any) of those things, but if it’s physically possible to make a humaniform robot that will do those things, then someone eventually will; the market will demand it. The first person to design a true personal-service robot will become very, very rich indeed. Bill Gates-type rich. Like the rise of personal computing, the rise of personal robotics will change everything, from geriatric care to manufacturing to entertainment to household chores.
It has ever been the role of personal technology, known in my youth as “labor-saving” devices, to make our personal lives more efficient and easier. Robotics has the potential to take this a quantum leap farther. Down side: We’re already on the road to a completely sedentary society. This won’t help that, except for the few that use the extra free time to get outdoors and engage in some healthful activity.
If a true personal service ‘bot was available today, I would be considering chipping in with my siblings to buy one for our elderly parents; the flaw in that plan is that the stubbornly self-reliant and technology-resistant Old Man would probably refuse to use it.
This will be an interesting development to watch.