This century has been highlighted as the era of advanced robotics. This has been the time when artificial intelligence has taken its first step into the social arcade from constricted labs and science fiction movies. For many of us, it is the actual proof of how much we have come forward from our classroom science and witnessing it actually shaping the future. It is no more a figment of our imagination or a vision of a far away future, rather we see all our progress with computer science, advanced mechanics, deep learning and artificial intelligence take the form of robots and become our comrades in discovering, exploring and researching this vast spectrum of possibilities.
There is no end to the possible application of advanced robotics in our physical space. Many of these areas are actively being explored with robots to handle the practical or rather manual workload. In no particular order, we bring you a list of 10 robots leaving their mark on artificial intelligence and robotics:
- Ekso GT: Exoskeleton has been of great importance to medical science. They can be used to amplify a person’s natural ability and improve the quality of their life. Ekso Bionics, a company based in Richmond, California, has been helping patients with spinal cord injury and stroke stand and relearn to walk. Their product Exo GT is helping patients with such injuries to recover and walk again. The hardware is composed of a battery powered motor robotics suit made of titanium and aluminium. Walking is achieved by the user’s weight shifts to activate sensors in the device which initiate steps according to the user’s hip movement resulting in a slow but seemingly normal gait.
- LG Rolling Bot: LG unveiled their Rolling Bot at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this year. LG’s Rolling Bot has been styled after BB-8 Droid and comes with a hybrid security/smart-home device/pet toy utility. It is a Wi-Fi based bot which can be remotely controlled and can be deployed check up on your house while you are away. It can also be driven around and be used to speak with people with it’s built-in camera and speaker. The bot can also connect with other smart home appliances such as TV and lights through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi network. This bot also comes with pet-friendly features. In this “pet mode” it can be used to talk to your pet via its speakers or can even dance and fire a laser pointer to play with your cat or dog.
- NASA Mars Pathfinder: Perhaps the most successful space mission robot, NASA Mars Pathfinder, though initially designed as a demonstration for a cost-effective and efficient way to deliver a lander and a free-ranging robotic rover to the surface of Mars, accomplished it’s goal while bringing in unprecedented amounts of data and outlived its primary design life. Mars Pathfinder used an innovative method of directly entering the Martian atmosphere by parachute and a giant system of airbags to cushion its landing. It also returned 2.3 billion bits of information, including more than 16,500 images from the lander and 550 images from the rover, as well as more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. These finding suggested that Mars was at one time in its past warm and wet, with water existing in its liquid state and a thicker atmosphere.
- Kiva Robots: Amazon occupied Kiva, the robotics company for $775 million back in 2012. Kiva makes robots that automate the picking and packing process at large warehouses. But it wasn’t until 2014 that Amazon really started using these machines which two years later turned out to be a real cost and time saver according to Deutsche Bank. Not only have they made Internet’s largest retailer much faster but have also cut operating expenses by about 20%. The Kiva robot is about 16 inches tall, weighing around 320 pounds, square-shaped, yellow machine that runs on wheels. They can run at a steady 5 mph and haul packages weighing up to 700 pounds. Kiva robots pick up shelves of products from the warehouse floor and bring them to a human employee who picks items and then packs them for shipping. While navigating, they avoid running into each other by using sensors that talk to one another. This makes them one of the most advanced robotics systems being used today, according to Goldberg, the UC Berkeley robotics professor.
- AIBO: AIBO stands from Artificial Intelligence roBOt and is also the Japanese word for ‘Companion’ or ‘Friend’. First introduced in 1999, they were the first robot of its kind offered to the general public. The AIBO is able to develop from a newborn puppy to an adult with a personality shaped by the interaction with their owners and surroundings. With its big success in the market Sony also launched many improved models in this series in the consecutive years. It was amongst the first socially compatible robots with the ability to learn, to adapt to its environment, and to express emotion. It could see in color, hears in stereo, and feels objects with its feet. It was relatively cheap, highly compacted and a very stable robot line with endearing features which was a huge factor in bringing the public a step closer to the robots.
- Roomba: iRobot took the household cleaning market by storm when it released its first commercial floor cleaning robot, called the Roomba, in 2002. By 2004 the Roomba had sold 1 million units, when a second generation model was released, the Roomba Discovery series. iRobot has since gone on to release a 3rd generation model in 2007, and a floor scrubbing robot, Scooba. To date 2.5 million Roombas have been sold making it one of the most commercially successful home based bot in the market. It is easy to use, app operated cleaning device with auto recharge, smart sensors-based navigation and visual localization.
- Atlas Unplugged: The Atlas robot was developed by Google-owned Boston Dynamics with the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency for its robotics challenge. It was designed to negotiate rough, outdoor terrain in a bipedal manner, while being able to climb using hands and feet as a human would. The latest in the this series”Atlas Unplugged” comes with major modifications like wireless control, runs entirely on batteries and comes with a taller and heavier built than its previous models, standing 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) high and weighing 156.4 kg (345 lb) with 75% of its body upgraded. Other major upgrades to Atlas include repositioned shoulders and arms which can move through a larger space; three ‘onboard perception’ computers for analysing sensor data and task planning; a wireless router in the head for communication; and a new pump to make the robot quieter.
- Actroid-SIT: The humanoid robot Actroid was created by Osaka University and is manufactured by the Kokoro Company Ltd. It was built with a strong human-like resemblance and has silicone skin with the appearance of a young Japanese child. Actroid-SIT can function autonomously, talking and gesturing while interacting with people. The Actroid robot can mimic sounds and other simple human functions, like blinking, speaking, and even an appearance of breathing in its chest, thus making it look smarter and more expressive than your average android. With several improvements been made, Actroid now makes eye contact and gestures in the direction of a person trying to speak to her, allowing it to adeptly handle crowds of people. It has also upgraded its human-robot interaction feature new “interruptibility” feature, the robot can immediately end its current topic and elegantly transition to the new response.
- PackBot: iRobot’s 510 PackBot is a multi-mission tactical mobile robot and has successfully deployed 2,000 of them in Iraq and Afghanistan, with over 5,000 PackBots have been delivered to military and civil defence forces across the world. It can easily be configured according to mission’s needs and can perform surveillance and reconnaissance, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) detection, building and route clearance, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), HazMat handling, improvised explosives device (IED) detection, checkpoint, and vehicle and personnel inspections. It is well-suited for even rough terrains and can easily climb stairs and navigates narrow passages with sure-footed efficiency, relaying real-time video, audio and sensor data while the operator stays at a safe, standoff distance.
- ASIMO: Honda engineers have been busy creating the ASIMO robot for more than 20 years. ASIMO stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility for its ability to walk like we do. It can also understand preprogrammed gestures and spoken commands, recognize voices and faces and interface with IC Communication cards making the most advanced humanoid robot in the world. ASIMO was designed to be a helper for people. It’s newly-announced version is autonomous, intelligent and responsive. ASIMO can now run at up to 5.6 mph (9 km/h) – 1.8 mph (2.9 km/h) faster than previously – and can run backwards, jump, and hop on one leg continuously. Its hands are more dexterous, allowing it to pick up a bottle and twist off the cap, and it can use its hands to perform sign language. The robot now has 57 degrees of freedom (ways of moving), up from 23 previously. It is 130 cm (51 in) tall and weighs 50 kg (110 lb). With it’s advanced intelligence, humanoid dexterity and friendly appearance, ASIMO continues to be the most popular robot in the world.