Robots have been a part of the science fiction world for many years. They have been seen in cartoons such as the Jetsons and have even been featured in fiction books. Within these fictional stories, robots have played in many different roles. Some androids take on the persona of a villain as seen within the movie Terminator. Other movies portray the artificially intelligent beings going through the battle of right and wrong as well as trying to find out who they are, like most humans do, as seen in IRobot. Another android that much of the older generation may be familiar with is Data from Star Trek, who was the only one of his kind that comes close to being human. Now, however, robots are advancing in technology and becoming more than just fictional entities.
Fascination with robots and their artificial intelligence has been one of many subjects of the scientific world. The Jetsons was one of the cartoons that showed a fictional robot character, Rosie, as a house cleaner and nanny. She performed many different chores around the home including cooking, washing clothes, and the overall cleaning of the home. However, Rosie was not just the typical robot. Rosie could carry on in conversation as well as give advice. She was so advanced in her programming that she sometimes thought of herself as a human. Often seen wearing an apron, Rosie would play nanny to the kids whilst Mr. and Mrs. Jetson were out on their private affairs.
Another example of advanced technology in robots that many have drawn inspiration from can be seen in the popular character known as R2-D2 from the Star Wars films. Although this bot does not speak with words as humans do, he is still seen to have the capability to communicate with the Jedi’s. He is often seen with Anakin Skywalker in the later releases. R2-D2 is shown to be equipped with engineering knowledge, can open just about any door, and even has an electronic weapon at his disposal. Comparing the sci-fi characters to one another, R2-D2 is shown to possess more enhanced technological systems than Rosie.
Recent reports have shown that real life robots and androids are indeed advancing in their technology. One such report is centered around Pepper, the robot with emotions. The idea that a robot can experience feelings almost seems unreal. Robots are made up of electrical circuitry and have been thought of as emotionless pieces of machinery. Pepper’s programming defies these statements by being able to respond to the emotional moods of his user. Part of Pepper’s ability to “feel” emotions comes from his facial recognition operating system. However, this robot is not the first of his kind to display this advanced technology.
In Dec. 2007, Toyota created their version of a real life partner bot which took a step in the direction that would function much like Rosie. This robot was displayed in front of a crowd playing the delicate strings of a violin with the song Pomp and Circumstances. This was not the first demonstration from Toyota Motor Corp. Other robots from the company have been seen to tumble around in the role of a guide as well as to have fingers working well enough to play a trumpet.
When it comes to the advancing technology of robots many people have been known to find that the human looking ones are less scary and easier to be around. Humans have a tendency to often interact with beings they can feel safe around. With robots now being able to mimic human behavior this might make it easier for robots to be accepted. As the future draws near it looks as though robots will begin to take their places in the world. Creators of these robots may even aspire to construct artificially intelligent beings that will be much like the made up characters, Rosie and R2-D2.
By Isis E. Stevens