Here’s what we imagined as children: jetpacks, entire meals that came in pill form, time travel, and, needless to say, helper robots. That last concept was especially exciting: What humans wouldn’t want a robot to make their bed for them each day, go to work for them when they didn’t feel like making the trip, or vacuum the living room rug when they’d rather put up their feet and watch television? However, this promised day of robot butlers, maids, and workers hasn’t dawned. Sure, we have little robots that vacuum our rugs, but they are always bumping into things. Can we do better than vacuum-bots?
A recent video on the BoingBoing website – “Thanks a lot, robot friend” – highlights the challenge beautifully. In just 20 seconds, we see a small robot helper grasping a beer in one claw and a bowl of strawberries in the other. A human hand appears on screen to activate the robot. Nevertheless, as the robot pours the beer into a glass, he constantly misses the mark, spilling the liquid. Then, the robot’s arm falls off, sending the beer can to the ground. It’s a perfect example of the state of helper robots today. In other words, they aren’t very helpful.
Washing Your Hair the Robotic Way
Panasonic, though, is stepping up. The company last year unveiled its Hair-Washing Robot. Truly. This robot can wet, shampoo, rinse, and condition your hair. It will also give you a spot massage. Of course, you can do all of this yourself, without the help of a robot. To be honest, the robot is designed for elderly residents who might need the services.
The Robot Bed
Panasonic also announced a robotic bed that transforms into an electric wheelchair. You can see how the elderly or disabled would find this very helpful. So, there are some helper bots out there created for people who actually need them, instead of those of us who just want to be lazy and not do house work. Regardless, it seems like we are well on our way to having the world of 1950s science fiction come into reality.
Posted on: 09.12.12