My Goodness the Gnats Are Big This Year! drone delivery
Photo via Associated Press

It seems the world is a-buzz (sorry) with the news that Jeff Bezos, head honcho at, spilled on 60 Minutes last Sunday (Dec 1, 2013) about Amazon moving into the use of flying drones to deliver packages.  The resulting social media chatter is not decisively for or against this move.  Some just make fun of the idea: asking when drone hunting season opens or speculating about getting dinner by knocking down a pizza drone.  But then some of the jokes may not be without some truth.

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Robots of the Not Too Distant Future

In part 2 of this series we looked at robots and robotic devices that are available today.  Some, like the robotic training aids in use to teach people CPR, medical diagnostics, dentistry and even child birth are fairly sophisticated.  The Geminoid line of robots are incredibly life-like.

If you’re  wondering whether this was in fact a real robot, or actually a person pretending to be a robot; it is not a fake.  This is the latest iteration of the Geminoid series of ultra-realistic androids from Japanese firm Kokoro and Osaka University mad scientist roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro.  Specifically, this is Geminoid DK, which was constructed to look exactly like associate professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark.

Prof. Scharfe confirmed: “No, it is not a hoax,” adding that he and colleagues in Denmark and Japan have been working on the project since 2010.  His Geminoid, which cost some US $200,000, is going to be used for studying human-robot interaction, in particular people’s emotional responses when they face an android representing another person.  Prof. Scharfe wants to find out if the robot can transmit a person’s “presence” to a remote location and whether cultural differences in people’s acceptance of robots make a difference.[1]

Have you seen the movie Surrogates? Continue reading “Robots of the Not Too Distant Future”

Robots as Servants: the Current Standing

robots, industrial
Scara Industrial Robot

Robots have been in service in industry such as assembly lines for some time, but they are not “intelligent” nor are they mobile. They are programmed to perform a single task – make a series of welds on an auto body, for example – over and over with great speed and accuracy. Their advantage is that they don’t get bored, tired or distracted and don’t require a potty break every 30 minutes.

Americans are quite familiar with such devices as the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner by iRobot, a similar unit will clean your pool. These are true robots as they do work independently of your input, they are not merely remote control devices, nor do they wander about aimlessly hoping to get the entire floor clean – eventually.  While they do manage to go around obstacles, get themselves unstuck and run a spiral “grid” of sorts to be sure the entire area is cleaned, they don’t seek out dirt to collect, just suck up what they encounter.  Another brand (Neato Robots) claims it’s version does not need to bump into obstacles, but uses laser range finding to explore the room ahead of it and map out a course to avoid contacting your furniture. Continue reading “Robots as Servants: the Current Standing”

Are There Robots In Your Future?

robots, sci-fi, householdHuman shaped robots that are capable of independent thought and mobility so they can perform tasks for us around the home or job site have been fodder for science fiction writers for several decades. The public seems fascinated by the idea of a robotic servant. But is there any real hope that such a thing is possible, and if so is it safe? After all, many of those same sci-fi movies and books are about robots that run amok. Do we really need or want such a possibility in our home?

This is part one of a three part series of articles. Part one looks at our need for robots, part two will explore what robotic science has for us today, and part three will look at the near and foreseeable future of robots. For the far-off future of robots, pick up any good robots sci-fi book! Continue reading “Are There Robots In Your Future?”

Sci-Fi Robot Trivia Fun

Here’s a little Sci-Fi trivia fun for you.  Click the picture below to get the full size version, then see if you can find Wall-E.  Once you’ve located him, go again and see how many of these robots you recognize.  Do you remember what show or movie they came from?  Some of these are pretty obscure!

robots, sci-fi, trivia

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