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Tech Professor: Robots

By George Craig
web posted April 13, 2015

TECH PROFESSOR Ė Robot: Any programmable machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. That is just one of many definitions of robot. Robots are becoming more and more ingrained in our everyday lives. Manufacturing, Warehousing, Construction, Medical and soon the home are all places robots have been and will be starting now.

Home robots are a fast emerging field and growing faster by the day. First come the cute little vacuum robots that do an ok job. You got a few to choose from like IRobot Roomba that starts at $400 or the Neato for $200. They work on hardwood, carpet, vinyl and tile floors and some models even scrub the floor. They work well enough and keep the floors pretty clean as long as you arenít dropping huge chunks of anything as I found out. Thanks kids. You do have to check and clean them on a regular basis but other than that you just let it go and do itís thing.

Other than the vacuum bots there is a large selection of toybots that are capable of doing all kinds of things from dancing to interacting with people. You got toybots that need remotes and more and more are starting to use smart phones for the remote. A company called WowWee has a very robust lineup of toybots for everyone. They have doggy bots and dino bots and even a zombie bot. Prices range from $40.00 to $80.00 and of course the price of any apps that you download to help control or interact with the toybot.

Telepresence robots are great for remote communications be it at home or the office. These devices can be controlled remotely and some have complete mobility. For the most part these are wheels with a four foot stick and a screen at the top. These work great for someone who is restricted to bed for a long time but still want to be around. The prices vary based on features but they can be found with a quick internet search.

Last but not least is the type of robots Iím most anxious to talk about. Companion robots are quickly developing into the robots from the science fiction movies and books. The latest and greatest of these robots is called Pepper. Built by SoftBank the new parent company of Sprint, Pepper is an innovative learning robot that responds to emotion. This robot can interact with every member of the family and learn habits and much more will be coming.

This robot has an open platform for developers to make apps that will continue to add to the functionality and abilities of this state of the art companion bot. This robot will be in Sprint stores starting this summer and run about $1600 with a $200 a month service fee. Why a service fee? Well Pepper stays connected to the internet for updates and web surfing and he can even show the kids videos to entertain them and cheer them up. Check it out here https://www.aldebaran.com/en/a-robots/who-is-pepper.

At the end of the day we are still a ways away from the movies, but we are getting there faster everyday. If this is today then I cant wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

Until next week, class dismissed.

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