Humanizing Robots

With no human coach at the controls, Virginia Tech's robot soccer team dribbled, passed, and scored its way into the 2010 RoboCup "kid-size" semifinal in Singapore. The tournament founders' goal is a robot team that will defeat the human World Cup champs by 2050. ©Max Aguilera-Hellweg/National Geographic Used with permission.

An upcoming article from the August edition of National Geographic talks about humanizing robots and how they will soon be everywhere humans are.  The article talks of many robots, including the Roomba from iRobot and some from Carnegie Mellon, like Snackbot, the snack delivering robot.  It also has some great photos from all over the world, including one of Bina48.  Shown above is one of the photos from the article, of the Virginia Tech robot soccer team.

Below is an excerpt from the article by Chris Carroll.

The Actroid androids are part of a new generation of robots, artificial beings designed to function not as programmed industrial machines but as increasingly autonomous agents capable of taking on roles in our homes, schools, and offices previously carried out only by humans. The foot soldiers of this vanguard are the Roomba vacuums that scuttle about cleaning our carpets and the cuddly electronic pets that sit up and roll over on command but never make a mess on the rug. More sophisticated bots may soon be available that cook for us, fold the laundry, even babysit our children or tend to our elderly parents, while we watch and assist from a computer miles away. 

“In five or ten years robots will routinely be functioning in human environments,” says Reid Simmons, a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon.

Such a prospect leads to a cascade of questions. How much everyday human function do we want to outsource to machines? What should they look like? Do we want androids like Yume puttering about in our kitchens, or would a mechanical arm tethered to the backsplash do the job better, without creeping us out? How will the robot revolution change the way we relate to each other? A cuddly robotic baby seal developed in Japan to amuse seniors in eldercare centers has drawn charges that it could cut them off from other people. Similar fears have been voiced about future babysitting robots. And of course there are the halting attempts to create ever willing romantic androids. Last year a New Jersey company introduced a talking, touch-sensitive robot “companion,” raising the possibility of another kind of human disconnect.

In short: Are we ready for them? Are they ready for us?

Are you ready for the robots that will soon be everywhere?

See  the photos in the August 2011 issue of National Geographic, available on newsstands July 26.

Also, see more photos at the National Geographic website or check out the full article online at National Geographic.

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2 Responses to Humanizing Robots

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  2. roboter staubsauger lg says:

    I don’t think an irobot roomba helps you really to clean the house, you have to clean it afterwards with a regular vaccoum cleaner to be sure.

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