Robots As Helpers

Here’s what we dreamed of as children: jetpacks, entire meals that came in pill form, time travel, and, needless to say, helper robots. That last idea was especially interesting: What humans wouldn’t desire a robot to make their bed for them in the morning, go to work for them when they didn’t feel like making the trip, or vacuum the living room rug when they’d rather put up their feet and watch television? Unfortunately, this promised day of robot butlers, maids, and workers has never dawned. Sure, we have little robots that vacuum our rugs, but they are always bumping into things. Can we do better than vacuum-bots?

A recent video on the BoingBoing website – “Thanks a lot, robot friend”  – highlights the problem beautifully. In just 20 seconds, we see a small robot helper holding a beer in one claw and a bowl of strawberries in the other. A human hand appears on screen to activate the robot. However, as the robot pours the beer into a glass, he continuously misses the mark, spilling the liquid. Then, the robot’s arm falls off, sending the beer can to the ground. It’s a perfect example of the state of helper robots today. In short, they aren’t very helpful.

Washing Your Hair the Robotic Way

Some companies, however, have created some robots that fall under the helper robot category. One of these is Panasonic; they developed a robot that washes your hair. It literally wets, shampoos, conditions, and rinses your hair. It also will give you a massage. This robot has been developed for elderly people and those that would need assistance with this.

The Robot Bed

Panasonic also launched its robotic bed last year. This clever bed can transform itself into an electric wheelchair and then back to a bed again. Yet again, though, this robot is designed for seniors, not for the lazy, middle-aged homeowner who wants someone to mow their lawn or wash their clothes. So, again we ask, where are those amazing helper robots that the world of 1950s science fiction promised us? Heck, at this point we’d even take a robot that revolted and turned on us!

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