AirTalk for December 28, 2012

Could 'Roboys' be our future caregivers?

CeBIT 2012 Technology Trade Fair

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A robot developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology retrieves a carton of juice in a presentation on the first day of the CeBIT 2012 technology trade fair. Advancements to humanoid robots could mean more fluid, accurate movement.

The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich is working on a humanoid robot designed to move as fluidly as a person. The project, called Roboy, uses tendons to allow for more human movement and actions. A team of scientists and engineers began working on Roboy in June and are set to finish the project by March of 2013. Roboy is designed to do work, and will come programmed to do chores – scientists and engineers aim to eventually program robots that could do human jobs.

Anthropomorphic robots of the past have been characterized by their jerky movements, and serve as inspiration for imitations of robot voice and the “robot dance.” But modern technology has advanced robotics to a new level. Many smartphone users are already familiar with the more human voice of the robots that complete basic search tasks. Developments to soft robots have proven that robots can move flexibly into places that would be unsafe or impossible for humans to access. Defense drones can be programmed to be autonomous; medical robots can even to “read the minds” of users.

As robotic technology becomes more ubiquitous in the fields of defense and medicine, it’s natural to see the same advanced programming in day-to-day life. What kind of changes would a robot like Roboy bring? Should robotic technology mimick the human form? Would it be useful to use robots to do human work?

Guest:

Maja Mataric, Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics at University of Southern California & Founding Director, of USC's Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems


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