Since my childhood years, I have always been fascinated with Robots. How I’d like to play my C3PO and R2D2 action figures and imagine them to be real - going about the crucial situations and conditions in our lives, whether it be at the battlefield acting as replacement for soldiers thereby minimizing lives lost in wars, in disasters such as fires and earthquakes, in medical emergencies acting as aide or replacement for doctors, as pets, and in our homes doing the daily chores (which I believe some of us hate).
Thanks to the advancement of 21st Century robotics, that dream seems to be slowly inching its way to reality.
Nowadays, there seems to be a growing trend towards developing more sophisticated robots that are not just mere “Toys” but can do just as much as their human counterparts or even better, robots that can do what might seem impossible for humans to do.
In this issue, we’ll take a peek at what is happening in the world of robotics, which has pit Governments, Independent Research facilities, private individuals, and Gadget companies in a blitz race to compete with one another to achieve the perfect machine, capable of making the lives of its human masters easier.
For starters, let’s have a look at the popular humanoid robots made by top Japanese firms Sony and Honda.
Meet the playful Qrio
Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories Inc. in their efforts to study how humans will react and accept partnership with robots, came up with a rather quite-small humanoid robot named Qrio. It is capable of walking uphill, singing, dancing, waving hello, wiggle its fingers and kick a ball with grace.
It has two digital cameras, one behind each eye, which helps it to map a room for future reference and recognize up to 10 different faces. This small robot can even converse in Japanese mind you!
Scientists tested Qrio by letting it participate in an experiment where it acted as playmate for toddlers at a nursery school in California.
At first the children where reluctant and did not know what to do with the robot but after a few hours of spending time together, accepted it as one of their own-even helping it get up when it falls, much to the excitement of its makers.
Scientists hoped that through this activity, they will be able to collect the necessary data that will help them alleviate errors in future experiments.
Meet little wonder ASIMO and cousin ASIMO P3
From Honda Motor Co., comes a new small-lightweight humanoid robot named ASIMO (Short for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility). This little astronaut, as commonly called because of its close resemblance, is capable of walking in a manner that is similar to a human being. Its hand and finger movements have also been increased, acting also similar to how a human would act!
This one is a product of Honda’s research of developing a robot that can be helpful to humans as well as providing practical use in society.
Earlier this month, did you know that for the first time in the history of the New York Stock Exchange, a robot rang the bell to start the trade! Yes believe it, it was ASIMO who rang the bell announcing the traditional start of trading, and not a famous personality or dignitary which has always been the usual custom.
These are but only a few of the advances made by today’s robotics, and the race still continues. Governments like the United States, Canada, Korea, and Japan are tapping on their military research facilities, and private firms to develop robots and unmanned vehicles that will someday replace their soldiers on the front lines, some armed and some for reconnaissance.
Someday in a not so distant future, robots will surely be working alongside us. Who knows maybe by then (God forbids, I still want to keep my job... giggles) we’ll have robots and computers in our offices that work by themselves without our aide.