Since we're going to merge with machines, let's have some friendly
machines to merge with.
This Dyson machine mows, so you don't have to:
See it work:
Gecko Systems' CareBot
How the CareBot Can Care for your Most Precious
In today's chaotic economy, it is all too common that the children will
get out of school before it is possible for you to leave work. This means
that they will come home to an empty house, and you will have no way of
knowing that they got home safely. The CareBot can help make sure that the
house is safe for them, and that they arrive at home when they should.
The CareBot can be set to monitor your house for intruders, making sure
that nobody is lurking inside, waiting for your children. When it is time
for the children to arrive at home, the CareBot can greet them at the door
and make sure that they arrive at the right time.
The clever thing about CareBot is that instead of having its own "brain",
it taps the spare processing power of a PC via a wireless link. That means
the robot itself is cheap and light but can still access cutting-edge
computer chips. At the moment all CareBot can manage is a spot of
vacuuming, but Gecko Systems is teaching it other skills, including smoke
detection and plant watering. CareBot will soon get a vision system and
voice recognition software too, making it even more versatile. Add an
Inspector- Gadget-style arm that can pick up clothes, cans and books and
you're not that far from a butlerbot that can follow complex orders such
as "take John a beer".
Probotics' "Cye" Robot
Now that the Digital Age is firmly upon us, where are all the robots we
envisioned twenty years ago? Will the likes of R2D2 merely live in the
annals of sci-fi lore? Not if Cye, the household robot from Probotics,
Inc., can help it.
Looking more like a handleless vacuum cleaner, the 16 by 10 by 5 inch Cye
is operated wirelessly by a PC and is programmable to handle a variety of
tasks, from serving drinks to vacuuming the carpet. The PC, using the
Windows-based Map-N-Zap software, communicates with the cog-wheeled droid
via a small antenna that connects to the serial port.
Two legs better
IF YOU were expecting domestic robots to look something like C3PO, then
the reality--a glorified biscuit tin on wheels--is mighty disappointing.
It's also useless if you live in a house with stairs. But don't despair
just yet. Many roboticists expect that the first two-legged machines could
be striding about your home in just five years' time.
Useless hypotheses: consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind,
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