When many of us were kids, we thought the future held jetpacks and helper robots for us. Helper robots, particularly, are exciting. It seems like, particularly with all the recent advancements in robotics, we should have robots that can clean our house, make us breakfast, and select our clothing in the morning, like Rosie did on the Jetsons.
A recent video on the BoingBoing website – “Thanks a lot, robot friend” – highlights the challenge beautifully. In just 20 seconds, we see a little robot helper grasping a beer in one claw and a bowl of strawberries in the other. A human hand appears on screen to switch on the robot. However, as the robot pours the beer into a glass, he constantly misses the mark, spilling the liquid. Then, the robot’s arm falls off, sending the beer can to the ground. It’s a perfect example of the state of helper robots today. In other words, they aren’t very helpful.
Washing Your Hair the Robotic Way
Panasonic, though, is stepping up. The company last year unveiled its Hair-Washing Robot. Seriously. This robot can wet, shampoo, rinse, and condition your hair. It will also give you a spot massage. Of course, you can do all of this yourself, without the help of a robot. To be fair, the robot is designed for elderly residents who might need the services.
The Robot Bed
Another robot that Panasonic produced for elderly and disabled people is a robotic bed. It transforms into an electric wheelchair, and back into a bed. So, helper bots are not quite as far off as it may seem. They are just being developed to help those who require assistance with simple tasks, instead of people who would just like to be lazy. But someday we may all have helper robots to get us a beverage from the refrigerator.