These 3 Robots Will Change the World
The robots are coming!
Wait. No. Don’t freak out. Contrary to everything you’ve seen in years of movies and TV shows, robots like these are not here to terminate us or take our jobs. In fact, today’s robots may make our lives easier.
From assembly-line robots that protect workers to human-shaped machines that help autistic children better understand complex emotions, these robots will change the world.
Say hello to Baxter, an assembly-line robot designed to be safe enough for work side by side with its human colleagues.
You see, most robots are too dangerous to work alongside humans. Their metal frames and crushing claws don’t play very well with our soft, squishy bodies.
Baxter, though, is constructed using softer plastics. And while it’s not exactly pleasant to get hit by one of Baxter’s arms, as the bump on my head can attest, it’s far less painful than getting cracked by, say, a massive piece of metal.
If Baxter does happen to hit you, the robot will stop in its tracks, giving you time to get out of its way before it tries to move again. If it bumps into you again, Baxter will freeze until it can be reset.
The bot is also equipped with a pair of lifeless eyes that help telegraph its arm movements, so you always know where it’s going to move next. And if Baxter runs out of parts to work with or can’t reach something, its eyes will look confused, alerting you to the problem.
Helping children with autism spectrum disorder can be a difficult task for parents, caregivers, teachers, and the children themselves. That’s why RoboKind developed Milo, a humanoid robot created to help children on the autism spectrum learn how to deal with certain social cues and situations.
Milo’s face is made of a pliable material that can move to replicate the expressions of various emotions, including everything from anger to happiness, which autistic children have difficulty understanding.
Using an included tablet and app, Milo gives autistic kids the ability to learn social skills on their own or with a parent or caregiver. According to RoboKind, research has shown that children who work with a therapist and Milo engage with lessons 70 to 80 percent of the time, compared with the 3 to 10 percent of the time that children stay engaged when standard therapeutic approaches are used.
Milo, though, is expensive, costing an initial $2,000 and an additional $250 per month for new lessons. Schools, however, can get Milo for $5,000, which includes all future lessons.
And while that may seem expensive, RoboKind says that bots with similarly expressive faces costs thousands of dollars more.
The modern hardware store is a cavernous warehouse that sucks you into a maze of tools and plywood. But Fellow Robots’ Oshbot is here to save you from the madness of spending two hours searching for a 1-inch screw in a sea of home-improvement parts.
The roughly 4-foot-tall Oshbot is essentially a robotic customer assistant, a Sherpa for your trek through the plumbing aisle, if you will. The bot is designed to let you walk up to it and tell it what item you’re looking for in the store, and then guide you to its location.
As you follow Oshbot through the store, a screen on its back panel displays relevant ads and coupons. Oshbot uses a series of lasers and cameras to navigate around customers and aisles without causing accidents.
Oshbot is currently being tested at Lowe’s Orchard Supply Hardware in San Jose, Calif. Fellow Robots says it’s also in talks to bring its helper bot to other stores and companies.