Telepresence is great in concept, but it’s a strange combination of being
somewhere and not being somewhere, and interactions with people are different
in ways that range from subtle to drastic. Willow Garage has been using Texai in
their office for quite a while. One of their employees, Dallas Goecker,
‘commutes’ daily from Indiana to California via Texai. So, they’ve been figuring
out some of these social rules as they go, to the point where some things are
now a part of the Texai communication software:
A few built-in bits of etiquette include:
Texai Rule #1: If you see me, I see you. Explanation: It’s about two-way
communication. Implications: The cameras face forward because the screen faces
forward. The pilots are only allowed to drive the Texai once they’ve shared their
Texai Rule #2: Texai does not record audio or video. Explanation: It’s about
Summer is here and the grass is growing, so this is the year to get a robot to do
the chore. This 28 x 28 x 15" Electric Robomower can move 360º and up a 30º
slope. It can be programmed to run automatically or by remote, and has a built-in
rechargeable battery. The two blades produce a cutting height of 1.6" at a speed of
6,000 RPM and the company promises a relatively quiet operation.
ROBOTS FOR $200
IBM has been hard at work for the past three years developing their
latest Question Answering computer. Watson — named after founder
Thomas J. Watson — is supposed to duplicate the human brain's ability to
understand the meaning of words, know the difference between relevant
and irrelevant content, and deliver final answers.
The company is so sure of the ability of their computer they are
working on an avatar so that it can compete on Jeopardy later this year.
The research has gone as far as getting the computer to answer in the
form of a question.
An array of server racks have been endowed with linguistic algorithms allowing it to not only recognize oddly phrased or
implicative questions, but to answer them in kind, with direct and accurate responses. Stuffed with encyclopedic knowledge of
the world around it, it answers on the basis of information stored within its data banks.
ROOMBAS ON STEROIDS
If you happen to travel to Tokyo, you may come across Narita Airport's
cleaning robots. It is rumored that Narita-kun and Epo-chan do a bang-up
job and are more fun to watch than your basic Roombas.
24 SERVO 08.2010