If you’re anything like me, then you probably love all things sci-fi and, more specifically, robots. I have been in love with robots ever since I was kid. Robots were just that one thing that fascinated me. It’s almost like robots can do anything, from dusting the corners to cooking lunch! It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to actually have a sort of robot butler or just a robot friend and I’m sure many out there have the same wish. Well, what if I told you that your dreams of having a robot butler could become reality? Yeah, you heard me. A 100% real Robot butler!
Robot’s take shape in many forms. They can be in the shape of an arm or a humanoid with wheels for legs. When I say butler, you’ll probably be thinking of Mega Man in a Butler costume or something along those lines, but in this case it takes the shape of a humanoid torso connected to a rail… on the ceiling! Yes, this prototype hangs from the ceiling like a bat! Just this week, Toyota, which developed the robot, announced that they’ve been building robots in their labs in California, include these “Gantry Robots” that hang from the ceiling and are able to do household tasks like cleaning and loading the dishwasher. What really inspired Toyota designers to actually create these robots was trips to Japanese homes, where the limited floor space would restrict robots. Their conclusion was simple: create a robot that was integrated into the architecture of a home. Of course, there is the problem of building new robot-assisted homes from scratch but the design itself does solve some issues.
In addition to this “Gantry robot”, they demonstrated a soft bubble gripper that uses air-filled cushions to grab items, and a floor based mobile robot, kind of like a roomba but with a torso and arms, that has the same capabilities as the Gantry. They’ve even managed to train these robots by having humans perform the desired action with VR controllers and then programming the motion recordings into the robot. Many robotics use similar techniques to overcome the challenge of programming movements directly into the machine.
Now of course, these are only prototypes. Toyota does not have any plans to commercialize the robots. It’s most likely going to be a long time before we start to see personal robot butlers and maids, but we are getting there! Bear in mind, Toyota isn’t the only company creating home robots, but it still remains a difficult task. Robots can only do what they are programmed to do and can’t anticipate every situation. They do have machines that can do household chores, but it’s very difficult to transfer those skills to a real home. Still, Toyota’s approach is reassuringly empathetic, building around human needs, not overriding them.The idea with these robots is to amplify the human’s ability, not to override. We wouldn’t want a Detroit: Become Human situation, now would we?