SERVO 09.2014 25
Cynthia Breazeal — the famed roboticist at MIT’s Media Lab and a pioneer of social robotics — has unveiled her latest
creation. Unlike her previous robots that were created for research and used in settings like classrooms and hospitals, her
newest robotic device is designed for people to use at home. Breazeal hopes users
will find the robot — called Jibo — so fun and friendly that it will become "part of
Breazeal says Jibo is designed as an interactive companion and helper to
families, capable of engaging people in ways that a computer or mobile device
aren't able to. The secret is not powerful processors or better sensors, it's
emotion. Jibo is different from other gadgets because it treats you like a human
being, according to Breazeal. "Emotion is the next wave of this humanized
high-touch engagement with technology."
Jibo will come equipped with an initial set of apps, or "skills" — as Breazeal
calls them — that will allow it to play different roles. For example, the robot will be
able to act as a cameraman, tracking faces and snapping pictures so you can be in
the photos. It could also act as an assistant who reminds family members of their
schedules, or as a telepresence avatar that helps people connect with each other.
Another application is as a storyteller. Jibo will be able to tell stories using
sound effects, graphics, and movement, "bringing content to life and engaging kids
in a playful way."
Yep. Robots are stronger than humans. In situations where strength
matters a lot, this often makes robots better than humans — at least for
some specific tasks. However, robots are also dumber than most humans,
so making those super strong robots do what you want them to do can
be a time-consuming, expensive, and often utterly impossible task.
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) wants to
combine humans and robots in the most direct possible way, by basically
becoming as one with an exoskeleton. DSME wants the super suits to
endow human workers with massive amounts of brute strength.
DSME's prototype exoskeleton weighs 28 kilograms, but it's entirely
self-supporting (the exoskeleton includes a frame that extends to the
ground), meaning that the human inside it doesn't feel any of that weight.
Electric and hydraulic actuators — all powered by a three-hour
battery — enable its wearer to walk normally while assisting with up to
30 kg of lifting force. So, you'd be able to lift 30 kg like it was nothing, or
50 kg like it only weighed 20. The exoskeleton can also be outfitted with
accessories that can turn it into a walking human crane like in the photo
(note the chain link attached to the metal part the man is carrying).
In testing, shipyard workers generally seemed to like the exoskeleton,
although (of course) they wanted it to move faster and be able to lift
more. The near term target is 100 kg — a capability that would come in
handy for DSME which is on contract to build 10 container ships for
Maersk, each of which will be 400 meters long.