February 24, 2005 7:35 AM PST

For simpler robots, a step forward

Scientists are working on two-footed humanoid robots that could eventually become common, household variety bots.
The New York Times
Photos: Simple robots out for a walk
Photos: Run, Asimo, run

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Why the humanoid fascination?
Why are people so obsessed with starting out by building something as complex as a human. When all is said and done, what use do they serve? Why can't people seem to think outside the box?

Why not instead try to design something with an actual useful application. It is expensive to make the thing walk, when for only 1% of the cost you can put it on wheels. It would be faster and still use less power.

A company with the right mix of creativity and know-how could built robots that have the potential to be popular.

The first step would be to build some kind of a base platform on wheels, with build in lasers or sensors that could actually learn to navigate your home.

You could network it to a computer where it could pull mp3 files or to play or upload pictures of the family dog attacking it.

The device should also be able to queue more process intensive tasks to the networked server with more processing and electrical power.

Eg. It could interface with software running on the server computer to record laser measurements of your home and store a 3d model on the server.

It could always figure out where in the home it is, based on current measurements by interfacing with the server.

If you can program peoples names into a cell phone, you could program room names and basic voice commands into this device.

I am sure there a billion more practical things that I won't think of because I am not a very creative person, but you could easily expand the companion to do simple but useful tasks like giving an "obstacle index" number to the main system, depending how much stuff you have laying around your house.

You could pull these numbers on the server to graph how clean the house is over a period of time, and which rooms.

Also you could program it to send a notice to the server if anyone is in the house between the hours of X and X. The data could sit on the server for you to view later, or send you an email (maybe with a picture).

You could program in a Tamagotchi mode for the kids etc.

All the stuff I listed could be done with the technology we have today and aside from the self navigation feature, would be less complex than a standard cell phone.

If the right company got a first generation product like this off the ground, there is a huge potential to create the "next big thing"
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
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