Sunday, September 18, 2005


Recently in my other FTVMS class we watched a doco on computers and robots, and how robots may become a significant part of our lives.
Robotics is being further and further developed in toys, and this is evident through the various products on the market, such as Furbies and Robosapiens. Robotic Dogs in particular are being programed to behave much more like real dogs - useful for people that live in city apartments and dont have time for real pets. Various robots compete at the Robocup annually in Japan where companies battle it out for the title through games such as soccer. Robotics in toys is constantly being developed in order to enable them to further interact with each other, and some of the toys can even be further programmed by owners. Robotic toys such as these retail anywhere from around $100 to $2000.
There are a number of household robots available on the market also, such as the robotic vacuum cleaner. With a number of models available, one of the best is the Roomba Discovery SE. A small circular shape, it can navigate its way around the house, and under small spaces, and when it hits an object it just turns itself around. It also returns itself to its own docking station to be recharged. While saving you the manual time of cleaning the house it has a number of cons - a major one being that you have to keep the robot itself clean, or else you will have problems, and they are known to break down within a couple of months. It also cant do corners because of its round shape, and cant do stairs. The Roomba Discovery SE retails around US$280.
There are a number of other household robots on the market such as the Robomower ($1600), which can be programmed to mow the lawn a number of ways, and can also recharge itself. Theres also Clocky - an alarm clock that runs away from you so you physically have to get up to turn it off. Personally I think it sounds really annoying and cant think why anyone would want one - which is probably why they're so cheap ($30).
To see a number of other Robots available, and an indepth breakdown of some of these robots features check out
It is predicted that it wont be long until robots play a large role in our homes also - and it makes me wonder about the lengths that scientists will go to in order to make robots as lifelike as possible. Only recently a man was shown on TV being fitted with one of the first robotic arms that responded to signals sent from his brain to where his arm should have been. According to the BBC documentary, the most intelligent robots currently in existance have the intelligence of slugs - in that they know they have to find their power supply (food) in order to keep going. But with the development of robotics - particularly in the military area, i'm sure that it wont be long until robots play more of a significant role in our lives.


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