Your friend the robot
These five social robots could improve your daily life. They can watch your kids or mix you up a special cocktail behind the bar, with a little extra lemon, just how you like it. Read More
Calming sentences like “no need to cry, it’ll be alright” generally come from a mum or dad. Is it possible though for a robot to take on this important role? Most children today are digital natives who have grown up with smartphones, tablets and other devices. So developers figured the leap from an Ipad to an Ipal was not that far and uptake would be fairly easy. The robot is programmed to talk to children and elderly, providing instruction and making sure its charges are safe. It is a babysitter and teacher, caretaker and playmate, depending on what is needed at a given time. At 106 cm tall and weighing 13 kilos, this helper rolls around on two wheels because the technology that would allow it to move more smoothly is more expensive than just popping two wheels on the android. It therefore has fewer fine-motor skills that you might expect from a robot that takes care of people. It cannot grab or pick anything up, and a comforting pat on the shoulder of a crying child or elderly person in need of care might be less gentle than intended.
Pepper knows your feelings
Pepper looks a lot like its Ipal buddy, but has one distinct advantage: The white, humanoid robot from Softbank Robotics can analyze and reflect faces and human emotions. The robot has been programmed to go into comfort mode in response to a crying child, for example. Perception modules, touch sensors and a touch screen that can be specifically programmed allows for direct, proactive communication. Social robots like Ipal and Pepper are in use in Japan and China, and Pepper is making the rounds in German care homes as well. Robotic harp seal pup Paro is a softer option, a cuddly therapy robot used in helping care for people suffering from dementia.
“Guido, one vodka on the rocks, please”
While bartending trio Toni, Bruno and Guido might not exude the flirty charm of Italian mixologists, they impress with their prompt execution and perfectly mixed drink recipes down to the milliliter. These bartending machines stay true to their developer’s motto, “your drink with a splash of robotics”. Whether behind an immovable bar in a club, at a mobile drinks station at an event, or as a self-driving prototype, the MakrShakr Cocktail robots are interactive mixologists customers can control using an app. Their repertoire runs the gamut from cocktail classics to individually created drinks, and their futuristic, cool design evokes the flair of a science fiction film. Remember the cantina on Mos Eisley in the original Star Wars?
Spot, the Covid-19 watchdog
Robots have really come into their own during the coronavirus pandemic when humans are doing their level best to maintain a safe social distance. When the pandemic began, health authorities in Singapore decided to employ robo-dogs to check that park-goers were following the hygiene protocols. Yellow robot Spot uses a camera to measure distances between people and monitor the maximum capacity of open areas. When Spot senses park visitors have gotten too close, it calls out in a friendly female voice: “Let’s keep Singapore healthy. For your own safety and those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you!” Then it paws some dead leaves with its yellow legs before continuing to patrol the outdoor space. Boston Dynamic developed Spot to explore dangerous territory and serve as a guard dog. As a sniffer dog, the robot can detect gas leaks, for example, or pinpoint technical faults in factories.