Last week I dropped by Aldebaran’s studio to get a glimpse of Pepper in action, and was pretty excited about this robot. But then I talked with Bruno Maisonnier, the CEO of Aldebaran. And then I got really excited: what Pepper represents is another iteration in the realization of the roboticists’ dream.
It is a fantastic time for technology. We live in a more connected world, and compared to even a few decades ago, we have vastly improved access to information and content, and have dramatically expanded our ability to connect with one another in interesting new ways to socialize despite time and distance.
Human-robot interaction is a fascinating field of research in robotics. It also happens to be the field that is closely related to many of the ethical concerns raised with regards to interactive robots. Should human-robot interaction (HRI) practitioners keep in mind things such as human dignity, psychological harm, and privacy? What about how robot design relates to racism and sexism?
We are moving closer to having driverless cars on roads everywhere, and naturally, people are starting to wonder what kinds of ethical challenges driverless cars will pose. One of those challenges is choosing how a driverless car should react when faced with an unavoidable crash scenario. Indeed, that topic has been featured in many of the major media outlets of late. Surprisingly little debate, however, has addressed who should decide how a driverless car should react in those scenarios. This who question is of critical importance if we are to design cars that are trustworthy and ethical.
In a crowded back room at AUTOMATICA 2014 in Munich, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) sponsored a panel of prominent robot users explaining their needs to a panel of executives representing all the prominent robot manufacturers.
The latest creation from Aldebaran Robotics – Pepper – is designed to live with humans. It doesn’t clean or cook but it talks, is mobile, can read emotions, and reacts autonomously to “make people happy.”
A report issued by the US Department of Defense shows that the army intends to test robots that “think – look – move – talk and work.” Figure 24 from the report summarizes the Army’s vision for these five problem domains, barriers to achieving its vision, and work to be done to advance toward the vision.
EU invests in new technology to support silver generation
At 94, Grandma Lea could not live alone anymore, but she wanted to stay at home. She still does thanks to the EU-funded GiraffPlus (@giraffplus) system, which uses a combination of wearable devices, sensors throughout the home and a mobile robot to assist older people in their homes, and to connect them to family, friends and healthcare professionals who need to keep an eye on the person’s health and activities. The system should be in commercial production by the end of 2015. The EU market for robots and devices assisting elderly people is estimated to reach €13 billion by 2016.
A large robot comes out of an office mailroom carrying a package marked “Urgent” to deliver to the boss upstairs. After navigating down the hall at maximum speed, it discovers someone is already waiting for the elevator. If they cannot both fit in the elevator, is it acceptable for the robot to ask this person to take the next elevator so it can fulfill its urgent delivery duty?
Special thanks again to “NateFan”, whose comment inspired today’s comic.
I hope the characters referenced from NASA are good sports, I figured they’d crack up over Nate’s “findings” regarding facial expressions in near zero gravity.
As we have been enjoying amazing scenes from Sochi, Russia where disabled athletes have been completing in the winter Paralympics, researchers in Switzerland have been considering a new route for athletes for whom normal devices such as prosthetic feet and modified wheelchairs are not suitable. For these athletes, robotic technology that can interface with the user, such as powered exoskeletons, may be better adapted to allow fair and exciting competitions.
On 8th October 2016 Zurich, Switzerland will host the Cybathlon, a championship for athletes using robotic assistive devices. Teams consisting of one or more “pilots” and a technology provider (academia or industry) will compete in one of six disciplines: