In what could become a plot scarily similar to I Robot with Will Smith, retailers will begin selling smart robots next year in Japan. The SoftBank Corporation said it would begin selling the human like automatons for home assistance use to address issues with labor in one of the world’s most rapidly aging countries. These human-sized robots will be using cloud-sharing technology to begin developing emotionally capabilities, which could be very scary indeed if they have access to an owner’s personal information and are relaying the information over the web.
That may not be scary enough for some, but how about a tiny 322-micrometer long robot made from polymer bodies and nickel-cobalt heads that moves by using weak oscillating magnetic fields? It also can deliver medication directly into your body and ultimately look like a human sperm cell. Researchers in Egypt and Holland have collaborated to create MagnetoSperm to travel through vessels in the human body such as arteries and capillaries. The researchers are planning on shrinking the MagnetoSperm to equip them with nano-fibers to act as tiny rudder tails to increase navigation abilities. Imagine having one of these injected in you that could be carrying any number of harmful drugs, bacteria or viruses in the future.
If microscopic robots delivering drugs that look like sperm are not frightening then what about a velociraptor inspired machine that can run faster than Usain Bolt. The former Olympic World Champion Sprinter could run at speeds of over 28 miles per hour. There may be a Cheetah inspired robot that can run even faster than the dinosaur one. Both of these could outrun any athletic human, let alone the average person. Luckily both are still required to be tethered to a rail to keep from falling over when running at those high speeds so they cannot chase you on the open road yet, but check out the video of the raptor in action at the bottom of the article.
Baxter, a robot built for factory conditions by Rethink Robotics in Boston has been hooked up to a monitor with human-like expressions displayed on the screen so other humans who are working next to it can understand the intent behind the robots actions. Some of his statuses, read emotions, include confused and needing guidance, surprised and sad among others. Working next to a moody robot everyday could be a little disconcerting in the long run.
Not only are robots becoming scary smart, but they are becoming increasingly popular in industrial settings with over 1.2 million in operation worldwide according to the International Federation of Robotics. Over 179,000 units were sold last year, a 12 percent increase over 2012, so their sales are increasing. They are also able to move around in the factory environment completely autonomously in some situations. Earlier generations of robots needed to follow around a yellow linear guide on the ground in order to find their way around a factory.
In Japan, according to a Reuter’s government draft report on the countries perceived growth outlook, increase in the use of robots in farming calls for a 20-fold increase and double for manufacturing use in industrial settings.
Finally, Hiroshi Ishiguro has become famous in smart tech-savvy crowds for creating scary robot replicas of himself that at times verge on the surreal. He pushes the envelope on a number of issues and his work borders on part art, part science and part philosophy. The humanoid beings he and others pursuing the same goals construct are so lifelike that when they were recently captured by a photographer, Luisa Whitton, the robots look so sad, scared and lifelike that they can at times appear to be in the midst of an existential crises.
By Taylor Rash