Robots Soon To Become Part Of Home, Work Life - Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Robots Soon To Become Part Of Home, Work Life

According to robotic scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, robots like "Rosie" from "The Jetsons" will soon be finding their way around our homes and offices.

"Sooner than you think," Siddhartha Srinivasa, of Intel, said. "Technology has come along so fast."

For example, scientists have developed a robot butler. A collaborative project of Intel and CMU, the robot can retrieve and deliver items on command – a luxury for some, but a necessity for others like Danny Christiana.

"I'm paralyzed from the neck down. I have limited use of my arms," he explained.

Danny is a mechanical engineering student at Slippery Rock who lost use of his limbs in a motorcycle accident. He's been working with robotic scientists all summer to develop new tasks for Herb to assist him with in daily life.

"If I never regain strength in my hands that he would be able to retrieve things for me, get the phone in case of an emergency, food, drinks, water," Christiana explained.

Project Manager Srinivasa says robots like Herb will help the disabled and elderly live independent lives.

"Any small thing that helps them live in their homes for longer -- just a little bit longer -- is a huge improvement to their quality of life," Srinivasa said.

But soon, scientists say, all of us will be interacting with robots, like a roboceptionist.

"Paul Rybski is 217 Smith Hall. Would you like directions?" the roboceptionist told KDKA's Andy Sheehan as it directed him to the office of Paul Rybski, one of its developers.

"Excuse me. My name is Snackbot. I have an order for Paul," another robot said.

Responding to orders typed into a desk computer, Snackbot may someday be roaming the corridors of your office bringing hungry workers their mid-afternoon snacks.

Snackbot is one of a new breed of robots called "service robots" and this may be just the first of many functions.

"Snacks were the easiest thing because everyone likes to be fed of course," Rybski said.

In fact, the robots at CMU are mostly works in progress as their developers try to find the right design and function so people will welcome them into their homes, making them as commonplace as the personal computer or the smartphone.

"Once the first really good one happens, everyone will jump on the bandwagon and that'll make really big inroads and we'll see how they branch from there," he said.

Already, robotic devices like the Roomba vacuum floors and carpets with no human strain and scientists think that very soon other robots will be brought into homes and at workplaces.

It promises to be the next wave of technology that is rapidly changing the way we live.

Article Courtesy of KDKA