Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cool Robots (One Robot, Many Waldos), a PC World List

"Coolest Robots of the Year"
PC World (April 25, 2009)

"From hard-working robots designed for and by the military to utilities that might find their way into our homes and some that are just plan fun, here are the coolest robots off this year's assembly line.

"RoboCourier from CSS Robotics

"CCS Robotics builds autonomous robot bases that can be adapted to a variety of uses. The company ships a variety of products including SpeciMinder, a robot that delivers specimens within a hospital so nurses don't have to. The RoboCourier is a 'healthcare transporter' designed to makes deliveries within a lab environment...."

There are quite a few other robots featured, too: each with a photo and descriptive text.

"Robot" in today's English seems to mean any device with remote control capability. That's okay - but my own notion of a "robot" is a device that is able to handle at least some of the decision-making on its own, like the recent Mars explorers.

The "robots" listed include some - like Quanser's Haptic Wand - that are 'waldos' - devices which move as the operator moves, and provide sensory feedback.

RoboCourier™, on the other hand, actually is a "robot" by my standards. "Using MobileRobots' technology, RoboCourier automatically adjusts to changing environments, without wires, lines, reflectors or other traditional guidance. It wends its way through hallway traffic finding alternate routes when blocked. It stops at the lab to collect patient samples. At the lab, staff unload samples, then press a button to send RoboCourier on its way...." (Robotics Trends)

Now that's a robot: give it an instruction, like 'carry this to room 107,' send it on it's way - and you can get other tasks done.

We're a very long way from R2D2 and C3PO, but we're getting there.

More about RoboCourier™ at "Mopec Delivers RoboCourier™ to Hospital Automation Market Teams w/ CCS Robotics and MobileRobotics" (Robotics Trends November 1,2007).

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