|No one likes doing household chores, but most people don't have an alternative. But, according to a story from CBS News, a new robot generation led by the team at Silicon Valley's Willow Garage may be about to change that. And that high-tech breakthrough could also change everything.|
Steve Cousins, chief executive officer of Willow Garage, said, "This robot can do things that people can do." The real-world robot is the creation of Cousins' Silicon Valley company that is working to spawn a new industry in personal robots. Cousins said, "Think about Rosie from 'The Jetsons,' but maybe without the attitude. Rosie's a cartoon, right? But the idea that you can have a robotic device that can move around in a human space and do things for us is real. That's actually happening."
While fantasies of robotic maids may still be a dream, the field of robotics is progressing rapidly and the PR2, and the open source software, ROS from Willow Garage is at the center of that progress.
"Everybody's sharing software and we can make progress to this future where we see robots."
Until Willow Garage created the PR2, each robotics researcher had to build their own robot from scratch before they could even begin experimenting.
Pieter Abbeel, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, said, "You spent so much time building and maintaining that contraption that your research would be really slowed down." Abbeel got one of 11 PR2s that Willow Garage gave to university researchers who agreed to share their work to speed the evolution of artificial intelligence.
|Robots like the one featured in the movie Robot and Frank may not be that far away according to CBS News.|
To be of practical use in the home, robots need to figure out a changing world around them. To do that, the PR2 is loaded with sensors that scan its surroundings in 3D.
At the forefront of robotic help will be aid for senior citizens. Abbeel said, "If we can program a way for machines to learn, then they could have a lot more intellectual capabilities after a while." Researchers don't have to program everything the machine does -- they have to teach the machine to think by itself.
Abbeel said, "We want to allow the machine to watch people do things and learn from that. It just kind of fumbles around with things and after a while realizes, 'Oh, this is how this works.' "
While those tired of folding laundry may be tempted to buy a PR2, the $400,000 price tag is a bit steep. Still, with robotics advancing quickly, a future free of household chores may, one day, be possible.
SOURCE CBS News
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