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Study Says 4.1M Domestic Robots In Use By 2007

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the let-the-machine-do-it dept.

Robotics 218

jangobongo writes "The U.N.'s annual World Robotics Survey for 2004 predicts that there will be a seven-fold surge in household robots by the end of 2007. Robots that mow your lawn, vacuum, wash windows, clean swimming pools, as well as entertainment robots such as Aibo are all vying to take a place in our homes and ease our workload. The study says that Japan is the leader in consumer robotics, with Europe and North America quickly catching up."

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218 comments

Let me be the first to say... (5, Funny)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584861)



I, for one, welcome our new lawn mowing window washing swim suit wearing robotic over...err...dogs?

Re:Let me be the first to say... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584879)

whoa that was fucking hilarious. Go back to bed you dumbfuck.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (5, Insightful)

swordboy (472941) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584927)

Not so fast - read closer:

The U.N.'s annual World Robotics Survey for 2004 predicts that there will be a seven-fold surge in household robots by the end of 2007.

Hmmm... multiply, carry the one... There it is... in 2007, there will be a grand total of SEVEN household robots.

Nothing times a billion is still nothing. I would hardly call it a surge.

fristy psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584864)

FUCK YEAH!

Time to get (5, Funny)

beacher (82033) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584868)

ROBOT INSURANCE [robotcombat.com] !!!!! Because robots have steel claws and they eat old peoples medicine for food!

First off.... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584963)

Sam Waterston is awesome.

Secondly, imagine, if you will, a world where Real Dolls meet Abio. Ruff ruff.

Re:Time to get (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585048)

Excuse me, you are standing on my dick.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584873)

Roomba Sales up 48%

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584977)

Only if Bill Gates builds another house.

Yup (4, Insightful)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584875)

Just like how they predicted everyone would using flying cars in the 21st century. Yawn.

Re:Yup (5, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584899)

But how many years ahead were the predictions? This study says three years. Weren't flying cars predicted for fifty?

In terms of maturity, the technology behind household robots is a lot closer to producing affordable units than that behind flying cars.

Re:Yup (1)

Skraut (545247) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584980)

Yes, something like that...

But in the back of a recent Popular Science they show a cover story from 1935 about personal autogyros, and how they will lead to flying cars in the near future. I think flying cars have been predicted since not long after the Wrights.

Re:Yup (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585223)

What is stopping you from buying a personal autogyro [americanautogyro.com] ? You can easilly pick one up for less than the price of an average car.

Re:Yup (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584910)

Well, you take the expansion of the definition of "robot" to mean any microprocessor controlled mobile mechanical device. If you look at many of these "robots", you find that they're more wonders of doing more with less than intelligent or complex programmed behavior. The robo-vac? Psedeu-random movement with a cliff & bump sensor. It runs over a room enough to be statistically unlikely to miss a spot, but it does it at a cost of covering most spots multiple times.

Re:Roomba (1)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585215)

You may want to visit the iRobot site to get your perception of the navigational logic adjusted. I'm all for healthy cynicism, but let's give credit where credit is due.

Re:Yup (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584920)

Ermm... Unlike flying cars, we already have robots that mow your lawn, vacuum, wash windows and clean swimming pools. As they become cheaper and more useful more people will buy them.

Re:Yup (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584938)

Hello ... what about the Ford Explorer??

Re:Yup (0, Redundant)

TAGmclaren (820485) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585068)

I always prefer the
[i]"640k [of RAM] ought to be enough for anyone"[/i]
when it comes to being cynical about tech predictions.

For obvious reasons ;)

-- james

TELEDILDONICS TODAY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584878)

i wish i had a teledildonics robot, so I could fuk u in teh ass from here on my neighbors wireless lan that is not secure!!!`1 OLOLOLOL FAGS

by 2007 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584881)

By 2007 we'll probably all have a personal hovercraft.

Re:by 2007 (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584890)

That or a Pentium > 4.0 ghz ;)

Another type of robots (5, Insightful)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584884)

They forgot sex robots. Add a bit of movement and AI to a RealDoll and you will have a bestseller.
(I'm only partially kidding.)

Re:Another type of robots (3, Funny)

MikeDX (560598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584979)

I'm not. I for one welcome our Artificially inteligent Latex overl. erm... ladies?

Re:Another type of robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585133)

Hard decisions in the future:

"Hmm, 300 $1 hooker bots or 1 $300 hooker bot?"

Yeah, right (3, Insightful)

Tyndmyr (811713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584886)

I love these drastic studies... Sure, it might make sense for people to do that, but since when has the general population had more than two brain cells in use at a time?

I predict painfully slow progress in robotics, and a vast increase in tech support when they first become prevailent.

7x0=0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584940)

Now you know how many robot vacuum cleaners I will own in 2007

The U.N.'s annual World Robotics Survey for 2004? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584891)

They are going to have to change their charter!

"WE THE PEOPLES..."

to

"WE THE PEOPLES AND ROBOTSES..."

see

http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/index.html

perspective pleeze (4, Interesting)

lottameez (816335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584892)

From the article: "robots will ...carry out surgery..."

And you people are worried about e-voting? How about e-i-just-lost-my-ear-lobe-due-to-a-software-glitch -in-the-dr.-kildare-robot?

Any different when a human screws up? (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584961)

Their are countless studies showing the deathtoll because of medical screwups. Depending on who you believe the number is insanely high. Those stories about people having the wrong bit amputated are not jokes or urban legends. They are common place.

Sure a badly programmed bot can do the same with one tiny little difference. Once a bug has been fixed it will be fixed in all the bots forever. Doctors make the same mistake over and over again no matter how many times they are told not to.

Re:Any different when a human screws up? (2, Insightful)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585054)

You are forgetting the way people think. It doesn't matter if the technology is safer than the old fashioned way, people will still cry foul whenever something goes wrong. Your post even demonstrates this. Having surgery in our modern world is very safe. Much safer than how it was a hundred years ago, and much safer than leaving the problem untreated. Yet in the few instances when something goes wrong, lynch mobs are after the doctors even if what happened was unavoidable.

Do you really think that would be any different if it were robots doing the surgery instead of humans?

Re:Any different when a human screws up? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585212)

If I ever need an amputation operation, you have convinced me to get a perminent marker and indicate which body parts are off limits.

I have made an equivilent (though obviously not as life effecting) action, I'm sure others have:

Dragged box out of corner, popped the lid off, wrestled with the stupid drivecage, disconnected and unplugged the faulty hard drive, inserted new one, wired up, more wrestling, put lid back on, bootup.
SHIT! Wont boot!
Turns out I had swapped out the working primary drive instead of the broken slave.
My problem was easily curable, but I can imagine very similar events occuring with doctors.

(As a side note, since my "problem", every drive inside my box is very clearly marked with its role and usual drive letter(s) clearly displayed)

The future...comming soon (2, Interesting)

ROBOGriff (797137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584902)

More importantly, this further proves we are getting closer to a world like I Robot and Matrix. Remember to be kind to your robots.

Re:The future...comming soon (2, Funny)

Uninvited Guest (237316) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584928)

Ignore parent post; he's a robot, and cannot be trusted...

Okay, he's not really a robot, he's just a guy in my office...

but, I still don't trust. He kinda... you know... talks like a robot.

Robot surgeons? We'll need 'em (2, Interesting)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584904)

Thanks to years of inactivity caused by having robots do all our work for us, in the end we'll be carried out of our houses by robot paramedics and taken to the robot hospital to have our clogged-up human hearts removed and replaced with robot hearts by the robot surgeons.

Isn't that kind of how the Cybermen got going? Will the Doctor have to stop us from trying to take over the universe?

What is a robot? (5, Insightful)

Laur (673497) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584905)

What exactly is the definition of a robot here? Why is a machine that washes your dishes an "appliance" while a machine that mows your lawn is a "robot"? How about washers/dryers (some even have advanced computer control)? What if you put a sophisticated computer in a toaster or a fridge? Where is the line drawn?

Simple, the tiniest bit of intelligence. (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584991)

Like a vacuum bot that spots dirty areas and cleans bad spots more and clean spots not at all.

Unlike a dish washer wich is totally incapable of spotting a sticky bit of dirt or doing anything about it. Put a clean load in or a totally caked up load and it will do the same routine.

The robots are supposed to be able to spot what needs to be done and do it.

But yeah, the line can be blured. Is a videorecorder that cuts out commerercials a robot? A microwave that detects how much energy is needed?

Re:Simple, the tiniest bit of intelligence. (2, Insightful)

justinstreufert (459931) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585047)

For an even closer analogy, my clothes dryer has a sensor in it which detects when the clothes are as dry as I wanted them and shuts the dryer off. I think this would qualify the dryer as a robot, since it has sensors and actuators and responds to stimuli. Of course, that would mean my heating system is also a robot, since it comes on automatically when it gets too cold in the house. Feh.

I think people look at devices that move around of their own accord and they know, "oh, that's a robot." Since appliances just sit there, people will not call them robots no matter how intelligent they are.

OT: Re:Simple, the tiniest bit of intelligence. (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585061)

"Unlike a dish washer wich is totally incapable of spotting a sticky bit of dirt or doing anything about it. Put a clean load in or a totally caked up load and it will do the same routine."

Around 10 year ago you could purchase them. They are for commercial purpose and they just have an on/off switch. They work by doing sample spraying where they would spray water then test the water, if it had dirt particles in it it went to the next cycle.
They also had microwaves for use for doing potatoes and reheating other food, again for commercial use. It just had 2 buttons for for potatoes one for reheat and worked on similar principles in checking the air and if found the required particles it figured the item was hot enough.

Re:What is a robot? (2, Informative)

ultrafunkula (547970) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584994)

From the article: "Robot" refers to any machine that operates automatically to perform tasks in a human-like way, often replacing the human workers who did the job previously. I guess a dishwasher wouldn't be covered by this because of the way it performs it's job.

Re:What is a robot? (1)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585090)

If a "robot" is defined as a machine that does a task in the same way as a human, an AIBO is not a robot, since it replaces a dog. Furthermore, neither a lawnmower nor a floorsweeper are robots, they would only be robots if they took the old lawnmower/broom out of the garage/closet and started using that to mow/sweep the lawn/floor.

Re:What is a robot? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585001)

Mobility. A dishwasher creates an enviroment, a Roomba interacts with one too.

Re:What is a robot? (4, Insightful)

BrK (39585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585016)

I think it is considered a robot if it can move from Point A to Point B under it's own power and logic control ("logic" might just be recalling a pre-programmed pattern from a storage device, etc). Or also, if it stays in place, but can manipulate other objects about.

An appliance can have a large degree of intelligence, but is generally an object that does not move about after installation.

Ie: a dishwasher that plays chess on a screen is an "appliance". A dishwasher that plays chess by actually moving the pieces about on the board (via articulated arms, etc) is a "robot".

alternative article on UN report...with more links (4, Interesting)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584906)


2004.10.20: UN predicts much wider use of robots
An Associated Press report [via yahoo] of United Nations Study on robots [yahoo.com] is predicting robust increases in the use of robots both for both domestic and industrial uses. If you googled [google.com] for this news you would find similar reports each year going back a ways. Here is the PDF straight from the UN. [unece.org] What makes this news is that its the UN talking, not some manufacturer's press release and that the numbers are more sanguine than ever:
"There are now some 21,000 "service robots" in use, carrying out tasks such as milking cows, handling toxic waste, ferrying medicine around hospitals and assisting surgeons. The number is set to reach a total of 75,000 by 2007, the study says."
But is there a job in this "boom" for any of us?

For comparison here is last year's report, tidied up by your favorite submitter, Roland Click-appeal [weblogs.com] [hey, at least he RTFA!].

Re:alternative article on UN report...with more li (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584998)

"...some 21,000 "service robots" in use, carrying out tasks such as milking cows"...

I'm 52 years old and when I was FIVE my uncles had cow milking robots. They called them "milking machines".

The incremental benefit of a machine that can move from cow to cow or move successive cows to it was also addressed back then. A herd dog moved the cows and a man, "he's bit slow because he had a fever when he was young", moved the machines.

While not machines in the sense of robotics, they were certainly machines, and very sophisticated ones at that, from a bioengineering perspective.

With cows, you have to have some human interaction to make sure they are feeling well and are free of disease. I'm no animal rights guy. In fact I enjoy a tasty sea turtle, veal ribs, pig meat, fruit bat, and so on. But, it's just not right for the milk drinker or cow, if someone doesn't give each teat a squeeze or two and have a look at the condition of the milk and animal before hooking up the machine

Re:alternative article on UN report...with more li (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585179)

these things go in cycles: cost drives producers to automate but when that trend has wrung all the excess effort and any trace of individual human attention out of the product, consumers start paying for product variations that are more authentic and at least seem less mechanized. Detroit now produces cars almost "on demand" with a high degree of customization because that is the next stop along the progressive dance of consumption and automation. In food, people are even more picky, hating the machine pickable tomatoes for instance ["pink tennis balls"] and prefering more expensive organic greenhouse tomatoes.

Re:alternative article on UN report...with more li (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585080)

I should have titled it "with other links" because the posted article has more links.

what will the kiddies do then? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584907)

Robots that mow your lawn, vacuum, wash windows, clean swimming pools

I thought this was why people had kids.

Re:what will the kiddies do then? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584934)

No, people have kiddies to have sex.

mmm, that didn't quite come out right - people have sex to have kiddies.

Something like that, I think.

~m

Re:what will the kiddies do then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584974)

You're RIGHT!

This is obviously an evil plot by our robot overlords to prevent us from procreating!

We must kick their shiny metal asses!

Re:what will the kiddies do then? (4, Funny)

catherder_finleyd (322974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585004)

The kids will still have jobs programming the robots:

"Hey Son, How do you program this thing? It's still flashing 12:00!"

Robots don't cry. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585015)

Not even at "Steel Magnolias"

Re:what will the kiddies do then? (2, Funny)

zymurgy_cat (627260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585019)

I thought this was why people had kids.

True, but your RoboMower won't drink your beer, invite its pierced, strangely dressed friends over to your house, listen to loud scary music, spend extended periods of time in the bathroom doing who-knows-what, ask to borrow the car and then not put any gas in it, or put you in a home when you get old and senile.

Re:what will the kiddies do then? (2, Funny)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585057)

True, but your RoboMower won't drink your beer, invite its pierced, strangely dressed friends over to your house, listen to loud scary music, spend extended periods of time in the bathroom doing who-knows-what, ask to borrow the car and then not put any gas in it, or put you in a home when you get old and senile.

Don't worry, it'll be out in the next release.

Re:what will the kiddies do then? (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585078)

The key is to market them to the kids to mow the lawn for them ;-) ... and to make it look like the kid's still the one doing the mowing.

Robot modding... (2, Funny)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584918)

When we all have house cleaning robots, or window washing robots how long do you think it will be before people mod them to be other things. Picture this....

I just overclocked my WindowWasher PCXL and modded it to become the most powerful BattleBot ever!! Wax on, Wax off...

Prepare for your lawsuit (1)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585117)

Because "Window" Washer PCXL will be challenged by MS. Soon thereafter your Windows(tm)Washing Robot will explode from a Blue Screen of Death and burn your house down.

Ah, but the ELUA says you can't sue M$ for damages.

Satanic Robot Chicks Again (3, Funny)

zenmojodaddy (754377) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584925)

I may have mentioned this before, but Anton LaVey suggested that the next big industry will be the production of robotic companions, because they can be programmed to provide the exact type of stimulation or gratification that the user requires, thus avoiding the need to interact with real people who are imperfect at best.

Natch, the Slashdot model will look like Princess Leia, know how to handle a soldering iron, and talk about how great Linux is. Or something...

There may also be an easily-repairable Wesley Crusher model for those 'GNYAR!' moments. Or Jar Jar Binks. Or that ultimate nightmare, Jar Jar Crusher.

Robots for autistic childeren (4, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585031)

Saw a bit on tv about robots designed to deal with autistic childeren. These kids find human interaction far to complex to the point where they just give up and stay in their own world.

What they need is something to play with them but in an extremely simple ruleset. They don't understand lies and half-lies let alone jokes. Human caretakers can't descend that low (we are talking well below the social skills of even a pet) but robots can. They can be programmed with a very simple ruleset of play and repeat this over and over again.

So for these kids at least the future of robotic playmates is now. They don't need massive advances in AI, the exact opposite infact. The total predictabilty of current AI is exactly what they need.

Re:Satanic Robot Chicks Again (1)

ibentmywookie (819547) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585036)

Imagine working tech support for a company that makes those!

"Hi, um, my penis appears to be caught in the unit, what should I do?"

"My Satanic Robot Chick doesn't give good head, how can I make it work better?" ... I'm sure others can come up with something funnier.

This article comes just in time for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584930)

... Brent Spiner's appearance on Star Trek next week. W00t!

What we really need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584932)

...is a robot that can sense when a politician is wacked out of his mind and going to drive us to the brink of destruction. We can even program it so that when Bush arrives it will wave its warms madly yelling, "WARNING, WARNING, ALIEN APPROACHING...".

Re:What we really need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584942)

Kerry is a robot, and a damned ugly one at that.

Re:What we really need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584988)

Interesting. I guess if Kerry had blonde hair and blue eyes he wouldn't be considered "ugly" by you and those of your ilk.

Re:What we really need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585037)

It's not his eye color and hair color, he is just damned ugly.

Re:What we really need... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585130)

And Bush is not?

four million robotses... (3, Funny)

gomel (527311) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584956)

... and none have the three Laws of Robotniks programmed in.
I smell trouble.

Re:four million robotses... (2, Informative)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584986)

Ahem. Three Laws only apply to the design of positronic brains.

Just to be really fucking pedantic.

Re:four million robotses... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585017)

If you wanted to be really, really pedantic you could mention that the Three laws are, you know, fictional.

maybe it's just me (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584964)

While I'd love to have somebody/thing else to mow my grass, I'm not sure that I trust an autonomous mechanical device with lethal whirling blades on it to wander about my lawn. Silly of me, I know ...

Re:maybe it's just me (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585157)

The comments on Amazon about the RoboMower have been generally pretty positive! I plan to get one once my house is built.

Robot, it ain't what you think it is (4, Interesting)

(SM) Spacemonkey (812689) | more than 9 years ago | (#10584978)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot [wikipedia.org]
At first this may seem a pointless karma whore link to wikipedia, but I have a point.

When you talk to the average person about Robots, they think of that terrible Robin Williams movie, or more recently I,Robot (the movie, not the terrific book). The point is, the term "robot" conjures up thoughts of artifical humans. However the strick definition of a robot is a machine automated to perform tasks in the place of humans. This is why I get disappointed reading articles like this, I go in with the anticipation of every geek. "Sex robots by 2007!" Ok maybe female geeks want cuddle robots... Anyway instead we get stuck with.... lawn mowers, and pretend dogs?

ASK SLASHDOT: Should I buy a Powermac? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10584992)

Through the Apple Student Developer program, I can get a single 1.8GHz G5 Powermac for $1500 CAD + tax (or a dualie for $2000 CAD, or a dualie 2.0 with PCI-X for another $500). Help me weigh the pros and cons! PS KILL ALL HAITIANS

So robots are going to be doing work, right? (0, Flamebait)

Guncrazy (633221) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585011)

And more work for robots means less jobs for people, right?

And people are bitching about outsourcing now?

I wonder which politicians will take the heat for this one...

Re:So robots are going to be doing work, right? (1)

BrK (39585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585028)

It's only less jobs for the stupid people :)

Someone still needs to design, build, service, support, market, etc. these new robot overlords (which I, for one, welcome).

Obstacle avoidance (1)

hussar (87373) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585012)

Well, I would certainly be glad to have a robot that cuts my lawn for me (even better if it does edging), but I wonder how it would handle objects in its path. Would I have to go around first and pick all the twigs, etc. out of my lawn first? Would it pick the stuff up with a robotic arm and move it out of the way? Or, would it avoid the obstacle and leave little islands of longer grass in my yard to mark where the dog toys are?

And what about toes? I fall asleep in a lawn chair while enjoying the extra time I now have not having to mow the lawn, and to pay me back for my sloth, the robot runs over my feet.

Re:Obstacle avoidance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585050)

I like pushing the mower and would actually prefer the robot for picking up deadfal and stones that have surfaced.

Would not even consider buying one for the only plesureable aspect of lawn care.

Re:Obstacle avoidance (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585174)

but I wonder how it would handle objects in its path

Perhaps the ideal robot grasscutter would be something about the size of a rat, which slowly chews through your lawn, taking about a week to do the whole lot. It would run slowly on solar energy and nibble away one blade of grass at a time.

That way your lawn never looks like it needs a mow, and you don't have to worry about it chasing you down.

It doesn't have to be a standard mower with a bit of AI

About time (1)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585065)

Robotics, like space travel, is one of those technologies that we've been assuming would happen along in the not too distant future for years!

Recent events, including the launching of some commercial robotic vacuum devices that sport some level of intelligence (they have been rigorously designed to identify, and not eat, cats... there goes one form of Monday night entertainment), the announcement of work on programmable er, pleasure robots, and the progress made by all parties in the Ansari X-Prize are very heartening.

Maybe after a couple of decades sebbatical, space and robots are back in vogue, and we can yet live in the future we dreamed of as children. (Yes, replete with programmable sex toys - hey, I was a sick kid...)

rigorously designed to identify, and not eat, cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10585214)

I need some help with a hack. Please.

I Wonder... (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585069)

I wonder what the use of such studies is. A prediction like this is largely uninteresting to most people, and no more than speculation to others. Still, announcements like this one are made from time to time.

Is it just interested people publishing their guesses, or is there some other motivation? Perhaps they want to encourage the industry to start making robots? Or they want to create a market for them?

Very prescient (3, Informative)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585124)

I was reading Marshall Brain's essays on the subject yesterday when I caught a gander at the news story.

Check out the series of essays on:

  • Manna [marshallbrain.com] software that "runs" service oriented businesses, therefore driving down wages
  • Robotic Nation [marshallbrain.com] about how robots are slowly taking over "routine" type jobs.

I'm sure this was covered in Slashdot sometime before, but Marshall's essays are eerie when juxtaposed with this article.

Fat lazy Americans... (1)

FlyingPostman (610686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585166)

...can grow even fatter and lazier now.

Re:Fat lazy Americans... (2, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585207)

This point is more valid than most would think. For a lot of people who have office jobs and don't go to a gym or otherwise actively excercise, yard work and housework are their best chances of getting some excercise. If we get to the point that robots are ubiquitous, than we have to do something to prevent the majority of our population from dying from pressure sores from not moving. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration but it will still be a problem.

Poolbots (1)

Marcus Erroneous (11660) | more than 9 years ago | (#10585210)

I've been using one of the "poolbots" for years now to vacuum my pool. There is a stable, mature industry that supplies robots to clean your pool. Kreepy Crawly, Polaris 360, Hayward and others will attach to connection points on your pool filtration system to clean your pool for you. And, they do a good job of vacuuming up leaves, dirt and the like while also helping to inhibit build up on the pool sides. These all exist at a price point that is acceptable for the quality of service that they perform.

While several parts of the system are programmable, in that there are adjustments that you can make that affect their actions, it would be difficult to see them as robots. You can program the timer to control when the pump comes on, which powers the poolbot by virtue of moving the water through the robot where various paddles move and power the device through gear drives. Adjustments to jets on the robot help exert pressure in a direction which alters the robots path around the pool. The manipulation of valves on the pool filtering system increases the pressure of the flowing water, and the speed of the robot.

So, you have a system that regularly performs a specific task for you. You have the ability to alter some of the parameters of it's task, but they are essentially single task machines with less processing power than one of todays dishwashers. The issue probably comes from the classic literature that portrays robots as something that mimics an existing, living organism to replicate (to some degree) its functions. I would imagine that the "lobster" type of biomimetic robots would perform the pool cleaning functions much better than the existing poolbots. With those crawling around the pools of America, then we really would have robots closer to the mainstream of American life.
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