Robotics in relation to computational sensing and toys
This article, written in 2005 for the BBC, describes development of a human-like android. At the time of this article the android’s reaction abilities were impressive yet limited. One line that was particularly interesting was “More importantly, we have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her. Consciously, it is easy to see that she is an android, but unconsciously, we react to the android as if she were a woman.” –Professor Ishiguro
Similar to Ishiguro’s progress, Honda (the automotive company) has been exploring and developing a humanoid robot to assist humans in day-to-day activities. Honda’s robot nicknamed the ASIMO has been designed with a number of joints in order to more closely replicate human movement (such as climbing stairs, walking). In a few days ago, on December 11th, Honda announced that the ASIMO was now capable of recharging its battery on its own and working cooperatively with another ASIMO unit.
Recently, in a review of the book “Love and Sex with Robots” by David Levy, New York Times writer Robin Henig touches on her humanoid crush, while visiting an MIT robotics laboratory. Robin continues to describe Levy’s theories and discoveries about the philosophy of love and human relationships. She later goes on to point out Levy’s notion of “reciprocal liking” and states possibility of programming that into robots, so that robots would like you back. While the whole article is centered on robots and sex, this notion would prove interesting and beneficial to robots beyond sexual functions. “Reciprocal liking” could for instance be applied to toys or robotic pets designed to interact with children or patients suffering from depression.
This article talked about robots that were made out of a collection of cubes. Each cube was programmed with building instructions and by working together could assemble another in minutes. This process of self-replication if used in the ways they mentioned may have the ability to save countless lives and prove an invaluable technique for the medical field. Including assisting in microsurgery through computational sensing of biological material.
Dr. Wilson, the author of “How to Survive a Robot Uprising”, while a humorous read points out various flaws of the robots of today. In this review of his book, I was struck by the paragraph:

“And his thesis describes a version of the smart house, a dwelling so rich in sensors that it would monitor people’s activities and raise an alarm if their movements changed or stopped. He said he was inspired to investigate the possibilities of such ”assisted intelligent environments” by his mother, a nurse who organizes care for elderly people who want to remain in their own homes — or ”age in place,” as Dr. Wilson put it.”

Dr. Wilson, like other robotics designers of today, are focusing some of their energy at devising ways to assist the elderly. One further possibility of artificial intelligence integration to assist the expanding senior population (as well as other) would be to create robotic cars with the knowledge of how to drive as well as the ability to sense other cars and the environmental conditions. In doing this seniors, who suffer from a loss of their senses, and others can experience a safer experience and more relaxing experience on the road. This would also allow for the passengers to just enter in the destination and the artificial autopilot would do the rest.
In an interview conducted last year, chief executive of iRobot Corp. (the makers of the Roomba), Colin Angle talked about the earnings and products designed by iRobot. Toward the end of the article Colin addressed the company’s plans to expand into other areas of development including assistance for the elderly. Also mentioned in the interview were iRobot’s PackBot robots, which were in use in Iraq to deal with the Improvised Explosive Device threats. Colin also mentioned a then newly released variant of PackBot called Fido, which is able to detect bombs safely without endangering human lives.


~ by bednar85 on December 13, 2007.

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