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Suitable Technology's Telepresence Robot Lets You Roll Remotely

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the when-a-roomba-loves-an-lcd-very-very-much dept.

Robotics 51

DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies today unveiled a telepresence robot based on technology from Willow Garage, a robotics research lab. Beam (as in 'Beam me up, Scotty' — no, really!) implements a video chat function on a computer you can remotely drive around via Internet-based control. Beam, which stands 62 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds, adheres to four operational imperatives, which are intended to mimic human interaction and behavior: reciprocity of vision (if I see you, you must see me); ensuring private communication (no recordings of what goes on); transparency of technology (keeping the interaction natural); and respect social norms (don't push or shove Beam!). But the big question is: Does Beam also adhere to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics? Let's hope so!"

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Fuck star trek (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41469877)

Beam (as in 'Beam me up, Scotty' — no, really!)

OMG?!? Really?!?!?

Exactly what was the point of that reference?

Re:Fuck star trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470711)

OMG?!? Really?!?!? Exactly what was the point of that reference?

Calm down, dude. It's because telepresence "transports" you instantly to another location.

Because star trek is awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41474791)

QED

What about the 4th law? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41469909)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/we-need-a-fourth-law-of-robotics-stop-fingering-my,11148/

Rolling Remotely? (1)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | about 2 years ago | (#41469921)

How would a robot assist me while doing ecstasy out in the wilderness?

Re:Rolling Remotely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470089)

No no no, its for telepresence RPG games.

Re:Rolling Remotely? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41470139)

How would a robot assist me while doing ecstasy out in the wilderness?

Well, it could follow you around flashing multi colored patterns on the screen and pumping out some of that Uhnn-sss-ah! Uhnn-ss-ah! house music you candy kids seem to enjoy...

Re:Rolling Remotely? (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41470175)

Oh, oh, I got one... it could cuddle with you, because under the influence of MDMA, you can have a deep emotional/spritual experience rubbing up against a toaster...

Re:Rolling Remotely? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41484713)

you send your Beam to buy narcotics from the pusher Beam who gets it from the Beam at the lab house. the cops get confused, they all look alike and when you arrest a Beam they wipe their memories.

The 3 laws do have some...interesting quirks (1)

Loopy (41728) | about 2 years ago | (#41470029)

Example: someone sustains an injury to an arm or leg such that amputation is the only way to save their life. How do all the nuances of directly or by omission of action harming a human get resolved to the satisfaction of the robot? How much explanation does an experienced medical expert need to give a robot to "convince" the robot that the course of action the surgeon is going to take is correct? How do the personal choices of the injured human enter into the decision process?

Seems easy until you start applying them to actual humans. ;)

Re:The 3 laws do have some...interesting quirks (2)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41470413)

Seeing as the latest incarnation of Watson is going to advise diagnoses for physicians, I could see and AI administrator managing selections from a library having some kind of Swiss Army Knife selection of medical responses with a human being validating or overriding the selection choices. For instance, the machine arrives on the scene and immediately begins doing a broad spectrum scan to assess the condition and needs of the patient/victim. It takes vitals and identifies potential cause for patient status while attempting to engage the patient. See's if the patient is conscious, responsive, rational, whether patient has contusions, burns, fractures and how severe the injuries are. Exactly the same as a doctor would now, but the machine can look at body heat, pulse rate, respiration, and a wide variety of injuries that would take a physician precious minutes to do. It could apply dressings for wounds, glue severe lacerations shut, cauterize severed arteries and veins, I could administer pain relief, artificial blood replacements, glucose or insulin, even do minor surgeries, tracheotomy, pnuemothorax, etc., in short all the simple life saving measures that would ensure a patient was stabilized until an ambulance arrived or on their way back to the hospital.

As for extreme cases as mentioned above, there would almost have to be some kind of hierarchy of harm and good. Removing a healthy limb is bad, save limb if at all possible, but above saving limbs preserve life. You could actually create a very complex and useful decision tree that physicians might want to employ for their own patients. Because the thing traverses the tree quickly, without hesitation, you save far more patients. Of course, if a person has a virtual certainty of dying, you might want to keep perform life saving actions weighted by not causing pain or further traumatizing the patient, with a doctor making the decisive calls.

Re:The 3 laws do have some...interesting quirks (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41476151)

Many of Azimov's stories were about the actions of robots in such a situation. They would behave erratically in order to avoid being forced to violate their laws, but if ever in a situation where it was impossible not to do so, a low-level failsafe caused them to shut down (And in a most untidy manner, usually destroying the positronic brain entirely: Not a clean shutdown). The theory being that if the laws have failed, the best action is inaction. Several of the robots met their end in this manner.

Re:The 3 laws do have some...interesting quirks (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41478261)

How do all the nuances of directly or by omission of action harming a human get resolved to the satisfaction of the robot?

Are you trolling or just making a bad Asimov joke? Robots are just machines. They don't have positronic brains, they don't have three laws, and they don't think. If you think your computer is more sentient than a doorknob, you don't know much about computers.

If it was a joke, I woosh you luck on the moderation... I thought it was lame.

Shelbot? (2)

bughunter (10093) | about 2 years ago | (#41470033)

Wait. Didn't I already see this on an episode [tvfanatic.com] of The Big Bang Theory?

Re:Shelbot? (1)

deamos13 (2739865) | about 2 years ago | (#41470173)

Shel-bot was the Texai robot from Willow Garage, Suitable Technologies is a spin-off from Willow Garage to commercialize the Texai, Beam(the robot you see here) is the evolution of Texai(aka Shel-bot). So yes, you did already see something like this on Big Bang Theory.

Comparison to vGo? (2)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | about 2 years ago | (#41470047)

We have a robot much like this at work already. It's a vGo [vgocom.com] , and can be driven around to meet with other people at the office.

How does this new one compare?

Re:Comparison to vGo? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41470103)

We have a robot much like this at work already. It's a vGo [vgocom.com] , and can be driven around to meet with other people at the office.

How does this new one compare?

Um... proprietary docking station?

Re:Comparison to vGo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470653)

Here's another: it's a Segway for an ipad. Seems quite simple in concept.

http://www.doublerobotics.com/

Re:Comparison to vGo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41471103)

Why don't you look and see?

Re:Comparison to vGo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41472115)

It's just like the vGo, except much, much better. Bigger screen and better software, primarily. Much more robust as well.

Re:Comparison to vGo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41480241)

It has a statically stable base (less likely to tip over).

It has four wireless cards in it with a proprietary wifi handoff algorithm making it much more robust when moving between wireless access points.

http://www.gizmag.com/beam-suitable-technologies-remote-presence-system/24296/

Higher quality cameras and audio components.

Those are some notable improvements.

Full disclosure, I work for their sister company Willow Garage, Inc.

Roll 'em ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41470053)

Here I was thinking it was finally a dice rolling robot, anything to take away the pain of repetitive stress syndrome of trying to roll 20.

Re:Roll 'em ... (2)

Annirak (181684) | about 2 years ago | (#41470251)

And I was thinking of a mechanism to let me play Rick Astley clips without anyone being able to fight back.

Re:Roll 'em ... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41476161)

One of these:

http://birds-are-nice.me/programming/glowydie2.jpg

Now THAT (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41470085)

... is fuckin' creepy!

Looking at the screenshots, [deviceguru.com] all I hear in my head is this tinny, flanging voice screaming "EXTERMINATE!" over and over...

Re:Now THAT (1)

AngryDill (740460) | about 2 years ago | (#41474395)

We'll be safe... as long as there's a stairway nearby! ;-)

Re:Now THAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41482995)

You haven't watched the new series yet, have you?

Interaction? (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | about 2 years ago | (#41470125)

On the main website they don't really mention anything about interaction, but in the deviceguru link they state it outright that you "have the freedom to move and interact with people as if you were there". Isn't this just a glorified version of a mobile chat device. I remember the episode of TBBT where Sheldon built one similar, but it did have the "hands" so to speak which I consider "interaction" and not just "chatting" which is what this one appears to be.

Roll remotely? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41470159)

Great! How do you smoke remotely?

Re:Roll remotely? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41476453)

A very long flexible hose.

It'd be useless in our work place. (1)

scdeimos (632778) | about 2 years ago | (#41470215)

We have stairs.

Re:It'd be useless in our work place. (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 years ago | (#41470269)

We have stairs.

Not to worry, Beam supports both "shover" and "pusher" modes.

Re:It'd be useless in our work place. (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41470347)

I don't see how it can support both modes, lacking hands. I can see it shoving around the blind people, but without hands, it can't push bread down their throats.

Regardless, it will still surely protect you from the terrible secret of space.

Unhealthy obsession with the 3 Laws (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 2 years ago | (#41470225)

having read all of the asimov books, including those written under commission by the Asimov Estate, i'm a bit concerned about this obsession with the famous "3 Laws of Robotics". later books came up with the "New Law" Robots, and several books covered a character called "Caliban", who was a robotic experimental "No Law" Robot that was framed for murder, escaped, and through naive, direct and untainted access to the world on which it was created, came up with its own ethics - its own "Laws", in pretty much exactly the same way that any intelligent human would.

my concern therefore stems from Asimov's own concerns, that the 3 Laws of Robotics resulted in a "coddled society". the "Giskardian" Robots had a Zeroth Law imprinted on them, via a Robot named "Giskard" who was accidentally one of the first telepathic robots, and possessed the ability to telepathically imprint thought patterns onto other beings (including other robots). R. Daneel, a humaniform robot, was the first to be so imprinted, and the implication from other books is that R. Daneel lived about 30,000 years and saw through - engineered and directed - the *entire* Foundation. the scope of Asimov's work is just... breathtaking when you read all the books.

the Zeroth Law Robots (Giskardians) interfered with humanity's evolution, for their own good; the 3 Law Robots (Calvanists) attempted to serve individual humans as best they could within the rigid confines of their programming. The key here is that both groups *interfered* with human development, as a direct result of their programming.

so the point is: i don't believe that it's a good idea to start advocating the 3 Laws as the absolute be-all and end-all answer as to how to shape and direct the creation of robotic intelligence. Asimov's own stories tell us a dozen or more ways in which the 3 Laws can go horribly wrong. i think we can decide for ourselves how best to create intelligent robots, thank you.

Re:Unhealthy obsession with the 3 Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470343)

i think we can decide for ourselves how best to create intelligent robots, thank you.

Yeah, let's ask the people in Pakistan about those robotic drone attacks.
I'm sure they have some interesting things to say about whether or not robots should be following the three laws.

Re:Unhealthy obsession with the 3 Laws (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 2 years ago | (#41475383)

My take on the matter is that the 3 laws are much publicized because they are conveniently shifting the focus of the robotic revolution to unlikely scenarios. You wouldn't put a 5 year old at the control board of a nuke plant, you wouldn't put unrestrained AI on a robot.

Repeat after me:
The problem is not with robots who magically get alive and disobey orders.
The problem is with robots who follow them.

Feature Request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470257)

Before starting to move, it should play a sound clip of Optimus Prime saying "Autobots, Transform and Roll Out!"

Got a better idea.... (1)

Catmeat (20653) | about 2 years ago | (#41470297)

Meh... A better solution would be to get a minion to carry your camera/monitor combo on a chain around their neck.

It'd be like you were Dr. Theopolis [wikipedia.org] and they were Tweaky.

It has no brain. It is not a robot. (2)

zephvark (1812804) | about 2 years ago | (#41470445)

The Three Laws are completely irrelevant here.

Re:It has no brain. It is not a robot. (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41479797)

First, no robot in existance has a brain. They have computers. Computers aren't brains. Second, no robot in existance is equipped with Asimov's three laws. Thirdly, these aren't robots, they're primitive surrogates. [wikipedia.org]

No, because it's not a robot. (1, Interesting)

Zadaz (950521) | about 2 years ago | (#41470455)

In fact is says right on the announcement page [willowgarage.com] that "Beam is no robot". So no need to be 3 laws compliant.

I'm still looking for a use case for telepresence robots. It needs to be a situation where all of these things apply:

1) I need to "freely" move around where I'm not. There are lots of situations where I would want this. However the situational awareness of these things is very poor. I drove one around and ended up rolling around the Y-Combinator offices without knowing it. For a tour of a place, office, factory, photos and handheld video would be preferable. (It's very difficult to "look around" with these thing. turning is slow.)

2) I don't need to touch anything. This is sort of the breaker. If I don't need to touch anything, why not just teleconference? Yeah, teleconferences kind of stink, but they do work. (And I can screw off during the parts that don't concern me. Try doing that in person!) If I actually need to do things then I need to be there in person with my arms and hands and fingers.

3) Movement is completely unrestricted where I need to be. Doors are all automatic. No stairs. No elevators.

4) Someone has the money to spend on these. They're expensive. People tend to abuse them, which makes them a maintenance problem.

5) No one cares about the Uncanny Valley. These things are deep in it and people react not positively to them. People hit the Emergency stop button to make the telepresence go away, people sit their drinks on them. Or push them around, pick them up. Drop them. Or just ignore them. People don't react to them like they're people. And there's really no way in the near future to get them out of this valley.

The closest I get for this is a factory tour in China. (For people who live a long distance from China.) But frankly if I need to take a factory tour I have the money to do it, and it would be worth my time to fly there and do it in person.

For anything else it seems like "Skype on a stick" is more than good enough. Does anyone have a legitimate (ie: not "it's cool!") use case for telepresence bots like this?

Shomer shabbos! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41471297)

Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don't work, I don't drive a car, I don't fucking ride in a car, I don't handle money, I don't turn on the oven, and I sure as shit *don't fucking roll*!

They see me rollin' (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 2 years ago | (#41471639)

They hatin'

Re:They see me rollin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41475041)

Considering it's gonna be used across skanky corporate carpeting, it'll be riding dirty in no time...

Lets you roll? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41472845)

Sorry. I had a mental picture of a robot sitting there with Zig Zag papers and a baggie.

I know this stuff makes you lazy, but come on folks .... getting a robot to roll them for you?

Re:Lets you roll? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41480553)

Sorry. I had a mental picture of a robot sitting there with Zig Zag papers and a baggie. I know this stuff makes you lazy, but come on folks .... getting a robot to roll them for you?

Have you seen how poorly most people roll a joint? The lazy ones won't be rolling, they'll be using hitters (I hate hitters but the young folks love them, say joints waste pot... yeah, the way THEY roll, sure). A joint-rolling robot would be a boon to most reeferheads.

Bob (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#41473289)

Boss via robot: Bob let me talk to you over here in my charging cubical

Bob: K...

Boss via robot: Bob I'm going to have to let you go, and if you come back and shoot up the place... you will be billed for the robot repair.

Bob: ~

informative TroolkoreTrOllkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41473515)

parts of you are was what got me towels o8 the fllor so that their

It needs to be taller (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 2 years ago | (#41477567)

Now, see, I would add a 12-inch linear actuator to the neck connection so that I could make my virtual presence taller. Everyone knows that most women want a guy who is between 5'8" and 6'2". So when I meet a cute female virtual presence, I can make my presence the appropriate height. Of course, I've now opened the door to other uses for linear actuators but that's a separate issue.

Can't wait.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41481037)

Can't wait, not for the robot, but for the youtube parodies :)

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