Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Robots Get Real - not yet ubiquitous, but on the way?

CNETNews - May 27, 2009, by Jonathan Skillings

Look out, Rover. Robots are man's new best friend

Sylvia the German shepherd is learning to live with robots.

The 6-year-old, curious canine was recently adopted by the Tambascia family in Brockton, Mass. There was one problem: a trio of house-cleaning robots--two Roombas, and one Scooba--already lived there.

"She didn't know whether to eat the robots or run," Joy Tambascia said. "She still tries to eat them or attack them on occasion--kind of how dogs react to the regular vacuum."

If Sylvia's conundrum sounds like a topic more worthy of Oprah's magazine than Scientific American, you're right: the robot of today and the near future is a lot more mundane (and probably a lot more useful) than the robot of science fiction.

For many people who own them, iRobot's Roomba is a regular vacuum cleaner. Roughly the diameter of a hubcap and about as thick as dictionary, it crisscrosses a floor autonomously, recognizes the difference between carpet and hard surface, senses stairs, and when battery power runs low, it automatically locates and returns to its docking station.

The Roomba is typical of commercial robotics in the early 21st century: There is no white-faced Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" who would desperately like to learn to whistle. Don't expect chatty C-3POs, intrepid R2-D2s, or killer Terminators. Instead, robots are humble devices that do menial labor, and they're on the verge of becoming household fixtures.

Read more>>

Follow me on Twitter. Technological Singularity and Futurism is updated often; the easiest way to get your regular dose is by subscribing to our news feed. Stay on top of all our updates by subscribing now via RSS or Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]