We take a look at how robots are changing the world by counting down the top robotic technology right now.
When it comes to robots, there are many ways you can look at them. They’re either hell-bent on wiping out humanity or our best friends – making us tea and doing the washing. But the fact is, most of that is just fantasy – the tales of sci-fi movies and novels.
Of course, we’ll more than likely see a day when robots are mainstream or even our equals, although that won’t happen any time soon. They’re mostly prototypes and elaborate plans put together by billion-dollar companies at this stage.
However, that’s not to say robotic technology doesn’t have potential. There have been plenty of advancements made within the last few years. From intelligent humanoids to bionic limbs, here are the best bits of robotic tech.
1. Milo Robot
Milo is a robot developed by American humanoid manufacturer Robokind to support children with Autism. Two-feet tall, it’s been designed specifically for parents, therapists, and educators to teach children social skills.
The robot displays different emotions which users have to identify using an iPad. While this happens, cameras built into Milo’s eyes monitor the child’s behaviour to provide feedback, and the children also wear a chest pack that looks out for changes in heart rate. That way, whoever’s working with the children can address problems.
The firm claims that children working with Milo have an engagement rate of 70-90%, compared to 3-10% with other therapy methods.
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2. Ekso GT
Exoskeletons demonstrate the potential robotics has in the medical world. Ekso Bionics, a company based in Richmond, California, has been manufacturing them for over ten years, working primarily with the military.
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Its latest product, the Ekso GT, is helping spinal trauma and stroke victims recover and walk again. The robotic suit, made from titanium and aluminium, uses battery-powered motors to allow the wearer to walk. All they need to do is move their hips forward, and the device will initiate steps. It also comes with software that health professionals can use to provide adaptive therapy.
While it would be nice to have a robot that can organise your home office and ensure your children are ready for school, that’s a long way off. However, Jibo is an excellent example of how robots can become our personal assistants.
Dubbed “the world’s first social robot for the home”, it recognises the faces of its owners and can do things like provide you with reminders and take photos at family celebrations. After raising more than $3 million through crowdfunding, the robot is set to go on sale later this year for $749 (£529).
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Teleportation is something we’d all love to experience – you could be in your living room one minute, and in an important meeting the next. It’s far from likely, though.
But Double is the next best thing. It’s essentially a stick with motorised wheels and a screen attached to it, letting you move around spaces and attend events from the comfort of your own home. Of course, it’s a great way to be lazy, but it’s also a sound product if you can’t be somewhere for a legitimate reason. It’s not cheap, however, costing more than $2,000.
5. Deka Robot
Bionic limbs have also emerged as an exciting area of robotic technology – aiding people who’ve been born without limbs or who’ve lost them in accidents. The DEKA Arm is just one one such example.
Funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US, it lets individuals who’ve experienced upper extremity amputations regain control of their arm and hand. The prosthetic arm is so precise that users are able to grip items such as cups and cutlery.
Pepper may have been announced in 2014, but that’s not to say it’s outdated. It’s still an awesome piece of kit. What can it do, then? Well, it’s claimed to be the first ever robot that can recognise and respond to human emotion. In its head, there are two HD cameras, four microphones and a 3D sensor, which all monitor facial expressions and speech patterns. You’ll also find a gyroscope in the torso.
Its creator, Aldebaran Robotics, says Pepper is aimed at making humans happy. It currently costs 198,000 Japanese yen (just over £1000).
7. LG Rolling Bot
Showcased at CES back in January, LG’s Rolling Bot could be set to revolutionise your home. Styled like the BB-8 Droid, it’s a Wi-Fi-based security bot that you can roll around your house remotely. The idea is that when you’re away – perhaps on a holiday – you have a way to check things are okay back at home.
So you no longer have to rely on family, friends or neighbours. There’s a pet mode, too. Activate it, and the ball will shine a laser point so you can play with your cat. How cool is that?
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We’re not all amazing chefs, but it’s still nice to eat scrumptious home-cooked food. Don’t worry, robots could soon fill this void.
Moley Robotics is the maker of the world’s first kitchen robot – set to launch in 2017. The system is a standard kitchen which includes robotic arms and humanoid hands that can stir and garnish food, replacing the cook.
However, you have to physically cook a meal first so the robot can master how it’s done. It’s expected to cost around £50,000 when it officially launches.
Google-owned engineering and robotics design firm Boston Dynamics is known for its whacky inventions, and Spot is no exception. Spot is a four-legged robot designed for operations inside and outside. Electrically powered and hydraulically actuated, it sports a sensor so it can find its way around rough terrain.
Back in February, the team behind the robot introduced it to a real dog called Fido, who was less than impressed with Boston Dynamics’ efforts. Rather than making friends, Fido spent most of the time barking at Spot. Robotic dogs clearly have a long way to go.
10. Honda Asimo
It would be impossible to create a list about the best robotic and humanoid tech without mentioning Honda’s Asimo, which is the world’s most powerful humanoid ever created.
Four feet high and weighing 54kg, the latest model of Asimo is powered by a 51.8v lithium ion and lasts for up to an hour. You can get it to undertake tasks just by giving it simple commands, plus it can speak in Japanese, Chinese, and English. Honda wants Asimo to be helping tourists in Japan by 2020.
Seen something we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.