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Toys

Dr. Robot Watches Over Home And More 192

jverbov writes "A Canadian firm has created what they call an 'intellgent personal robotic companion.' It can be wirelessly connected to your home Internet connection, has a built-in camera and speech recognition software. There's a recent article about it at the Toronto Star." This thing promises a lot, and while the price is steep, it's a lot cheaper than some other household robots due out.
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Dr. Robot Watches Over Home And More

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  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Q3vi1 ( 611292 ) <sean&radicalmonkey,net> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:10PM (#4560680)
    About time something came along to keep watch over my Aibo!
  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig,hogger&gmail,com> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:12PM (#4560689) Journal
    Since it's canadian, it won't have a built-in gun, thus removing much of whatever appeal it may have for gun-crazy yankees.
    • by HorrorIsland ( 620928 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:19PM (#4560743)
      Since it's canadian, it won't have a built-in gun, thus removing much of whatever appeal it may have for gun-crazy yankees.

      Are you kidding? It'd make a great target!



    • All North Americans including Canadians are Yanks in the eyes of our brothers south of the border. Well, Yanquis.

      And a good bit of my European pals consider Canadians yanks(spend some time in youth hostels around the world and the first thing a Canadian will do is enter the room and announce they are Canadian and not American, i have seen this happen in three different hostels in three different countries, you guys got membership cards) North American is Canada too.

      And let me say as a proud loud mouthed american(not really too loud mouthed, but american all the same, with a dash of spanish and french thrown in for good measure, new orleans born and raised) that most of us are proud and loudmouthed, as any loyal citizen of any country is. And Canadians are a bit pompous of the fact that they are Canadian(not American).

      Though the dictionary defines Yankees as:

      1. A native or inhabitant of New England.
      2. A native or inhabitant of a northern U.S. state, especially a Union soldier during the Civil War.
      3. A native or inhabitant of the United States.

      Oh yeah, and it is some guys name too. German I think. One of those superior races.

      As for the gun, I can hack one up for it. Not a problem. Free country and all that, well free enough so I can have a gun.

      Puto
      • Canadians: Dont listen to this moron, Yankees are uniquely hated worldwide... and hes trying to say that Canadians cannot escape the gravity of that hate, that we too are hated, and we should just get used to it... NOT TRUE . He is trying to provide solice and comfort to his Yankee brothers who cannot understand why Canadians are *not* hated like they are... this is a unique ploy - completely without merit. Having similar accents -- to those unaquianted with their subtle differences* -- might lead someone to mis-identify a Canuck as a Yankee... clear it up quick and notice the difference in treatment.

        Yankees: Stop and wonder for a moment why people take issue with you, based on your nationality. If your a nice person, and deserve to be treated with respect, stop and think for a moment why it is that your lumped in with "them" for which the default treatment for Americans is Bad.

        Why is this? Its not jealousy - NO MATTER WHAT OPHRA WINFRY SAYS, not all critisism springs from the wells of jealousy.... the world is not Jealous of America. Simple. So, what is it? Think about it... please propose some of the reasons below. Just imagine for a moment, what would make people think badly about America?

        *To other Native English Speakers: I can mostly identify the difference between an Aussie, Kiwi, SA, Irish, Scott etc etc accents, but not immediately. I bet most Brits can pick them out very quickly. Its similar w/ English speaking NAmericans. I can immediately identify someone who lives in Manitoba from someone who lives in NewMexico. A Newfie from an Ontarian.

        Please, give us more credit than an our immdediate NorthAmerican accent.

        • "Yankees are uniquely hated worldwide"

          Hmmm, I have been all over the world and no one has 'uniquely' hated me anywhere. I am a pretty likable fella and get along with just about anyone I come across. And while there are places that hate "Yankees" most countries dig North Americans. Wait, most places take people for who they are, not where they are from. There is no 'default' treatment if you are a US citizen.

          I am jealous of Canadians? Why? I am just pointing out a something I have come across more than once. I have taught in three universities and one high school in other countries. And while my American brethern have on many occasions been an embarassment I never make excuses for them.

          However, all of the Canadians are always quick to point out that they are Canadian. Without prompting. I think this is funny. Maybe it is only the expatriate Canadians I have known. Never got them any better treatment.

          "Hi I am Norman, nice to meet you"
          or
          "Hi, I am Norman, I am from Canada"

          It is great to be proud of your heritage, who you are and where you are from. No problem with that.

          And as for accents, many North Americans can identify the 'subtle' different between accents from other countries. Though Aussie, Scot, New Zealand, and Irish aren't subtle as you say, they are very different. You cannot tell someone who is a Scott right away?

          And North Americans can pick up on the Canadian one quite easily. But not by territory. I mean I generally can do the regional thing in the US. But if you get someone from New Orleans you would most likely think they are from Jersey, we tend to have the same accent. Common fallacy to think people in New Orleans have really southern accents, we do not. And those are not our chicks tits doing mardi gras. Those are the northern tourists. We leave during da parades.

          As for myself, I am good with accents. Time spent abroad, and also a set of grandparents from Spain. I can almost 90% of the time tell you what country a spanish speaker is from. And there are more spanish speaking countries than english ones.

          So I am sorry if I offended you in pointing out something I have found in my travels.

          But I do not think we are uniquely hated around the world as Americans.

          And I do not think Canadians get much better treatment than US citizens. Maybe in some places, but usually it is the same.

          Or maybe people treat me differently cause I am slightly brown, speak three languages, and do not give a shit.

          Puto

  • Modular Robots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speedy8 ( 594486 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:14PM (#4560703) Journal
    I would like to see them make robots that are very modular, This would have a couple of benifits, people would be able to start their robot much cheaper (Only have to buy one or two functions to start with) and they would be able to upgrade and expand their robot as they needed more features. This would be kinda like computers are now and would help bots get adapted by the population at large much more quickly. (Think of how fast things took off after clones came out)
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:16PM (#4560726) Homepage
    A whole new way of having fun, send your personal robot onto the streets to War-chalk for you.

    "I didn't do it officer, you just can't trust robots these days"
  • by euxneks ( 516538 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:17PM (#4560728)
    In patrol mode, the bipedal robot acts as a home security system, scoping out your house for intruders. If the robot's thermal sensors detect a human in the house, the robot can e-mail to the owner or call them on their cell phone.

    [AOL voice] You've got Intruders! [/AOL voice]
  • The article says these robots will be under $3k. If that turns out to be true, it would finally make advanced robots like this more affordable for the home. If they could get the price down below $1500, then this is the price of a good purebred pet. It might be interesting to have such robots that look like animals. No more cleaning the cat box!
  • by neksys ( 87486 ) <grphillips AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:17PM (#4560730)
    It can be wirelessly connected to your home Internet connection, has a built-in camera...


    So anyone with a bit of knowhow (or the right script) could potentially hijack this device to watch ladies change, or to observe someone punching in an alarm code, or whatever else their devious little minds might come up with? I really like the idea of Canadian robots, and having connected devices is pretty neat as well - but the internet is inherently insecure, and I just don't know if I'd feel comfortable with a little camera running around watching me all day when the possibility exists that someone could access it.

    • I really like the idea of Canadian robots

      Extreme robotic hockey?

      Of course, until they make robotic horses, they can't make law enforcement robots.

      The government also can't sponsor development in most normal computer languages, because so far there hasn't been a language with commands in French and English.
    • Is it too early to start thinking about laws of robotics? As in how asimov depicted? Perhaps with a few additions, eg A Robot shall not watch someone change except where this conflicts with the first three laws!!
      • It's not too early to start *thinking*...,
        But before we can start *doing* anything about them, we need to figure out how the robot is going to know who's a person. (I suppose it could just assume the dog wouldn't be giving it orders, but...)
      • It's already covered by the first 2 laws.

        The robot cannot harm a human being, this includeds psycological damage and one would assume the personal damages o fhaving yourslef broadcast over the net would be included.

        If that law doesn't work, the second one will definately kick in, self preservation except where it conflicts the first. If that robot got caugt, he'd be one smashed bot.
    • Hey, it didn't spend 4 years in Evil Robot School to be called MISTER Robot!
  • Visibility (Score:2, Insightful)


    You want your alarm system to be visible; make the badguys think twice about breaking in.

    If the alarm system consists of a toy; then the burglers are going to break in, trash the joint, then get shot when the cops turn up.

    Blood is really hard to get out of shagpile!
    • by WotPeed ( 613645 )
      More likely, they'll break in, trash the joint, and steal the cool looking robot thingy. It'll be found stripped for parts in an alley in Mexico (or sold into prostitution, one of othe two).
  • If not, it isn't worth the price tag.

    Probably most people like me are looking for something that is smart enough to take over mundane household tasks like the laundry, vacumming, mowing the lawn. etc...

    ;)

    You know, preferably one that happens to be cheaper than having a kid.
  • by ealar dlanvuli ( 523604 ) <froggie6@mchsi.com> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:20PM (#4560749) Homepage
    I think we will have reached the pinacle of home robotics when I go to get my 3am Ice Cream and the fridge says "I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave".
  • by simbonk ( 569489 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:20PM (#4560755)
    >>"But he said it was important to make the robot look as human as possible, so people would think it was smart."

    -I beg to differ.

    "-You see here the problem is somwhere between the keybaord and the chair"
  • by euxneks ( 516538 )
    No way!!

    When the first batch of the robots is released next year they'll likely cost between $1,500 and $3,100, Xie said.

    For a robot that can walk and maintain his balance, as well as all of the other things mentioned in the article (all wireless too!) I don't think it's a steep price at all!! Any computer geek knows that a good computer costs them 3,500 (CDN) just to play games at a good speed! I think having a robot around at that price is paltry in comparison to what you can do with it!!!
  • Or it walks out of range of the wireless base station? I know my base station's coverage is pretty weak thoughout my house. Then again, at $1500+, another base station looks cheap.

    On a more serious note, I'd really like to see how well it handles stairs and how well it can keep from running into things. I'd also be interested in how pet-proof it is.
  • by rob-fu ( 564277 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:22PM (#4560772)
    In our website, you will find the latest technologies advances and trends that are shaping our lives with the presence of robotic companions in your homes. Also, you will find information on our new products that will enhance your life dramatically no matter how old you are or what stage your life is at.

    How can a robot enhance your life? They make it sound like you're adopting someone or hiring your own personal assistant.

    Let me know when robots can actually do important yet monotonous tasks for me, and then I'll buy one. Until then, I'll just consider robots cool gadgetry, but not purposeful, functional things.

    Or get a dog.
  • matter of time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Romancer ( 19668 ) <romancer.deathsdoor@com> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:25PM (#4560789) Journal
    Imagine this thing being hacked, if it's got an internet connection, it's just a matter of time. With the options this thing has it could report you to the RIAA for downloading songs, or start the next "klez variant" outbreak, even record your "extra carricular activities" to play back for your girlfriend. It's a robotic spy waiting to happen.
    • it could report you to the RIAA for downloading songs, or start the next "klez variant" outbreak, even record your "extra carricular activities" to play back for your girlfriend.

      That technology has been around for ages. I just call it my little brother. Little bastard. :)
  • Actual usefulness? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:28PM (#4560812)
    All of the things mentioned in the article can be accomplished by static sensors for much cheaper. Monitoring multiple rooms with cheap X10 cameras, speaking through speakers. Detecting for intruders. Emailing you or calling your celphone.All of this can be done with home control products such as Homeseer [homeseer.com] and X10 networks. The rest - reminders and scheduling, can be done with a PDA or scheduling software with your computer.

    What this does represent is the very earliest twinkle in the imagination of robotic developers who are waiting for the technology to catch up to our science fiction dreams - the day when personal robots will truely be useful as 'pals' that will help you in your daily life and provide an anthropomorphic touch, kind of like Data and his 'positronic brain'.

    At some point, the argument will begin as to whether they are 'alive' or not, and robot rights groups will spring up everywhere! Whee!

    --Mike

    • Just out of curiosity - Have you read Peirs Anthony's Phaze series? That last part of the comment sounds like you have or should.
      • Actually I haven't read that particular book, but there's a whole genre of robot stories out there that deal with the same issues, which is why I mentioned it. There's a very fertile field of thought and imagination when it comes to androids...

        and it's interesting how people can react to the same AI when it takes a human form vs. when it takes some other physical form. Perhaps it's safe to say that on average we treat things with human characteristics with more respect? I.E. everyone wants to save the cute fuzzy creatures but nobody cares about bugs and reptiles, on a layman's level that is. I think the emotion that dominates there is compassion. Compassion combined with knowledge and intelligence (in a scientist, for example) can enable you to have as much sympathy for an alien looking insect or sea creature.

    • At some point, the argument will begin as to whether they are 'alive' or not, and robot rights groups will spring up everywhere! Whee!

      You mean all our base will belong to them??? lol :)

      Reece,
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Funny)

    by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:30PM (#4560820) Journal
    If my kids are going to be anything like the kids that I hope they will be, they will:

    1) Jam the Robot's wireless frequency
    2) Hack the firmware and play a loop-back video of them doing homework.
    3) Rewrite AI in Aibo and the robot to deathmatch mode and take bets.
    etc

    but realistically, kids will probabbly

    1) knock robot down with chair, accidentally or otherwise
    2) sit on it, accidentally or otherwise
    3) spray ketchup onto it, accidentally or otherwise
    4) go swimming with it, accidentally or otherwise
    you get the idea

    either way - to make a robot "kids proof" is a tall order - i am not sure if this flimsy looking thing fills it.
  • I must admit... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LamerBunny ( 613373 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:30PM (#4560825)
    I must admit this has a lot of potential! Especially the low cost is interesting, since it makes it available to a much larger group of consumers. But there is one thing I wonder about though: In the picture, although the robot does not look like some cheap, 99 cent item, it still appears to be... rather fragile.

    I am not sure if the bipedal robot is the best design, simply because it seems rather unstable. And with cameras, advanced processors and so on, I would think that you do not want this thing to be just that - unstable. It seems to me that you would want it to be as stable and as sturdy as possible. Otherwise, all the great examples of home-use don't really seem like viable options for many families.

    You would never let your expensive new laptop with built-in thermal detectors, and all sorts of other great gadgets walk up and down stairs unprotected... would you? I think we can all just picture the shiny little computer comming apart in slow-motion...

    So before I would ever consider investing in something like this (which I at some time surely would), I would be VERY certain that it can stand up to the strongest natural force known to man: Children and stairs!
  • Practical use? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GreatDave ( 620927 )
    So far, I really don't see much that distinguishes this "personal robot" from, say, Microsoft ActiMates Barney. [microsoft.com] Well, it _does_ have the thermal sensor thing... why does this suddenly seem like Barney meets the Terminator?

    Seriously, though... this seems like agent technology done right. I'd much prefer Dr. Robot to Clippit, thank you very much. However, I forsee that this will be considered nothing but a very expensive toy. Perhaps he can contend with rand(verb); Me Elmo 5 years from now for Christmas domination.
  • Dr. Robot (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bob Vila's Hammer ( 614758 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:36PM (#4560853) Homepage Journal
    "If the robot's thermal sensors detect a human in the house, the robot can e-mail to the owner or call them on their cell phone."

    *ring ring
    Owner: "Hello?"

    Robot: "A warm humanoid mass is robbing your house. Video has been sent to your email, enjoy. Thank you for choosing Dr. Robot."
  • by nucal ( 561664 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:36PM (#4560856)
    From the FAQ
    IV. Personalities and Emotions
    In addition, Dr Robot Inc. has planned to develop unique personalities and emotions of the robot based on the relationship with its owner. Personalities such as playful and shy, as well as emotions (such as happiness, sadness, fear, dislike, surprise, and anger) can be expressed by the robot via sophisticated voice synthesis and body language to hold intelligent conversation with its owner and other people.

    Great - the mechanized psycho home companion ...

  • I see now (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Herkum01 ( 592704 )

    I am not sure I like this,

    In patrol mode, the bipedal robot acts as a home security system, scoping out your house for intruders.

    These were called dogs. Sometimes they are known as the family dog to most people.

    The robot uses the owner's home computer and Internet connection to answer questions or help a human shop online.

    Used to be a local teenager called a geek, sometimes the child would be yours.

    The robot can also upload everything it hears and sees to the Internet.

    These were called little brothers, except the did not tell the whole world through the internet. Maybe they do now, I donna know.

    It can also act as a personal digital assistant, reminding the owner of appointments.

    These are called wives, and they can be more fun than just reminding your of appointments, *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink*!

    So basically you can replace most any person in your household with a $1,500 robot. I guess we really don't need other living beings at home.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Give a robotic vagina ... (*drool*) every nerds dream
  • Dr. Robot? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:45PM (#4560897) Homepage Journal
    You know times are tough when you need a doctoral degree simply to be an evil robot slave.

    - A.P.
  • Now if the handshake dosen't work out, telnet into the guys robot and beat him up.

  • by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @08:52PM (#4560934) Homepage
    "your plastic pal who's fun to be with" but they didn't want to be the first against the wall...
  • (and 640k ought to be enough RAM for it :-)
  • ...an 'intellgent personal robotic companion.' It can be wirelessly connected to your home Internet connection, has a built-in camera and speech recognition software.

    Ah, yes. But can it post submissions to /. without glaring spelling errors? That'll be the day.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    speech recognition software

    I is able to understand numerous phrases including:

    'Hey hoser, get me a beer'
    'That a Molsen, eh'
    'Hey hoser, get me another beer'
  • Intelligence? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Montreal Geek ( 620791 ) <marcNO@SPAMuberbox.org> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:07PM (#4561028) Homepage Journal
    This is amusing (from the website):

    Xie said he could have built the robot far more easily by giving it more legs or using wheels. But he said it was important to make the robot look as human as possible, so people would think it was smart.

    "It's hard to convince people that a six-legged robot that looks like a cockroach is actually intelligent," he said.
    A human appearance, he said, also encourages more natural communication between robot and master."

    And here I was [slashdot.org] just six stories ago pointing out my not-so-humble opinion about how misguided trying to emulate biological systems was. This proves my point doesn't it?

    A manufacturer went to a lot of trouble (and presumably expense) to make their device less reliable (hexapod locomotion is demonstrably optimal) and try to give a pointless appearance of intelligence.

    If the robot had been built like a cockroach, arguably one of the most effective designs, I wouldn't have been any less likely to think it intelligent (it's not), but far more likely to think the designer was.

    -- MG

    • hexapod locomotion is demonstrably optimal

      Not like I know anything about hexapod locomotion, but can you point me somewhere where this optimality is demonstrated?

      • Re:Intelligence? (Score:2, Interesting)

        Oh, last time I saw a good proof was in a Communications of the ACM, IIRC June or July 97. I could go dig it up if you want (email me if you do; that issue would be deep in storage).

        Basically, the whole concept relies on the fact that with the proper gait [sequence of movements to take a step] the center of gravity always remains within a triangle formed by three legs, and thus makes the whole contraption considerably harder to tip over, and makes tasks such as navigating holes or steps orders of magnitude simpler. (The center of gravity moving around is exactly what makes climbing steps a hard problem for a bipedal robot).

        With more legs you gain additional resistance to environmental damage and a bit more flexibility with difficult obstacles, but you also increase complexity of construction and controlling by lots, and unless the environment is very hostile you normally wouldn't want to bother.

        I'm sure a Google search will point you to a number of papers on the subject. MIT was especially interrested in that field in the early '90s.

        -- MG

    • I disagree. Hexapod locomotion may be easier to build, slightly easier to maintain, and maybe even cheaper, but as any person of extremely abnormal height or weight (especially dwarfs) can attest, our entire world is made for bipedal creatures that are between five and six and a half feet tall and less than two and a half or three feet wide. If robots are going to be useful in our world, they need to develop the abilities to walk up and down stairs, open doors with knobs that are of a standard height, occupy furniture that is made for human beings, and generally interact with a world that is built specifically for the average-sized human being and no one else.

      Robots may not be able to do these things right now, but it's important that they develop in that direction, rather than on a path toward better hexapods.
  • But what does it do that requires it to be a bi-pedal moving robot. It has a camera... so what, I can mount my own in every room and cover all rooms at the same time. Entertain the kids? For a week, till the get board, and/or break it. Remind you of appointments etc... I got a PDA, (and a long term/short term) memory of my own. Warn me of intruders? see above, under cameras. Its a neat toy, but for all that it does, it does not need mobility.
  • kickoff (Score:2, Funny)

    by OffTheRack ( 551671 )
    this humanoid robot stands just 60 centimetres tall

    If this thing tries to sneak up on me, it will be uploading footage to the internet of itself flying accross the room after one swift kick.
  • Guard dog (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @09:37PM (#4561141) Journal
    Unless the robot gets some big gnashing teeth and a good lunging procedure programmeded in, somehow I think that - for security measures - a guard dog is still better.

    Will there be a sign like: caution, guard robot.
    The problem is, that until somebody steps within our little metal friend's perimeter, they can happily plunder your house. Even if the robot grabs them quickly, they're still able to get away for some smash and grab.

    Meanwhilst, fido (with the sign indicating the house is guarded, to hopefully dissuade idiotic US lawsuits) with his dagger-sharp teeth and strong appetite for crooks is still going to be a much better deterrent.

    Of course, if we could get some robots with laser beams or something equally cool. Maybe you could program it to make the groin area an optimal aim-point... good deterrant indeed!
  • I'm having this mental picture of 5-10 years from now, if/when these things go big, of everyone in the office having one much like people do with PDAs and cell phones these days. Of course, this would replace both. Everyone would have their own robot (mini me) following them around, reminding them of appointments and sitting on their desks or the corner of their cubicle. I mean, geezh, if cell phones in theatres are bad, think what a whole squadron of these little critters could do to your movie time if they followed their owners in.
  • by dscowboy ( 224532 ) <drugstore.cowboy@gte.net> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:17PM (#4561357)
    Cute, but most of the 'features' they list are just gimmicks, a list of reasons a guy can use to justify the purchase to his wife. "But honey, it'll, uh, protect the children! From terrorists!" The Roomba, on the other hand, has a practical application. I'll probably get a second generation one assuming some good improvements are made.

    These people aren't trying to make anything useful, they're trying to make an expensive toy similar to the the robot dogs. A robot that was self-sufficient and could learn things (like how to operate my refrigerator door) would be worth the price. And no, I don't want my robot to look like some kind of astronaut. Have you seen Honda's asimo [i4u.com] bot? If I was sitting by myself at night and turned around to see that thing I'd probably piss myself, it looks like an evil midget in a space suit, or HAL 9000 with legs... creepy.

    Just give me a robot with enough memory and the right software to learn things, I'll do the teaching myself. "Robut, fill the humidifier." "Robut, take out the trash." "Robut, clean the toilet."

    And another thing, who wants their robot to have 'emotions'? There's only one emotion I need from it; humble servitude. I don't need another expensive and emotional toy, I already have a girlfriend. (Ba dum, ching!)
  • by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad@th e b s o d . c om> on Tuesday October 29, 2002 @10:36PM (#4561466) Homepage
    IV. Personalities and Emotions In addition, Dr Robot Inc. has planned to develop unique personalities and emotions of the robot based on the relationship with its owner. Personalities such as playful and shy, as well as emotions (such as happiness, sadness, fear, dislike, surprise, and anger) can be expressed by the robot via sophisticated voice synthesis and body language to hold intelligent conversation with its owner and other people.

    Great, I'm going to shell out all that cash, get it home, and be greeted with "I'm soooooooooooooooooo depressed. Here I am, a brain the size of a planet, and he wants me to go fetch beer..."

    Has Douglas taught us NOTHING?? Forget Asimov, Adams people, Adams!

  • When the first batch of the robots is released next year they'll likely cost between $1,500 and $3,100, Xie said.

    As the article is from the Toronto Star the figures are in Canadian dollars, so the price in in the U.S. will really be about $3.50.

    • So far it's just hype, but it looks like they're going to show at E3 next spring, so we'll get to see it then.
    • This thing probably isn't any smarter than an Aibo. It seems to have about the same sensor suite, and about the same claims of intelligence. But if you've ever played with an Aibo for any length of time, you realize how pathetic its software is. It has trouble locating its own red ball, and it can't deal with a table edge.
    • I suspect that it doesn't really balance, either. It has huge feet, and is probably a statically stable walker, like a windup toy. The description says "The robot's innovative mechanical design will allow it to get back into walking position even in the event of a stumble effortlessly". This probably means a canned righting sequence, like an Aibo. But if they really put in the accelerometers and gyros needed to do it right, that's a major advance. (You can buy that stuff now [xbow.com], but it's a bit too big. But see a newer one. [spp.co.jp] Millions of rate gyros are going into auto anti-skid systems.) If it has those, it's reprogrammable, and the motors have enough power that running is possible, I'll buy one for my own work.
  • That you don't buy the pusher bot [somethingawful.com] model.

    It might like to shove grandma down the stairs and light things of fire.

    Even if it will help with the terrible secret of space, it's just not worth the risk.
  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @01:45AM (#4562273) Homepage
    Obviously, they don't have a decent marketing dept. If they knew what they were doing, they would partner with RealDoll [realdoll.com] and sell about 100 times more of these things.
  • (Picture an old fart, sitting with his cane on a park bench, quavery voice cracking with disgust).

    You young whippersnappers! Impressed with any new geegaw. We had Butler in a box [mastervoice.com] in my day, and it was good enough for me!

    Seriously, this isn't new, guys and gals. I rememer Butler in a Box from waaaaaaay back.

  • "III. Endless Entertainment"

    Does this mean they plan to combine Dr. Robot and realdoll [realdoll.com]? Now that would be a hit.
  • It can be wirelessly connected to your home Internet connection, has a built-in camera and speech recognition software.

    Why does the robot need an internet connection? Is it going to go out and surf for Robot Pr0n? [electricbiscuit.com]

  • The robot uses the owner's home computer and Internet connection to answer questions or help a human shop online.

    I dunno, but the prospect of some mechanized, commissioned sales person -- that I have to privilage to pay for -- is NOT attractive.

    Imagine you instruct the thing to get you a beer from the fridge and it starts on "Try the Molson Canadian XTREME. XTREME To the Max! Molson EXTREME - YOUR NEW FAVORITE BEER!" shaking its hips and then waiting for you to say "Just get me a damn Canadian!"

    I dont think I need a robot to help me shop.

  • In patrol mode, the bipedal robot acts as a home security system, scoping out your house for intruders. If the robot's thermal sensors detect a human in the house, the robot can e-mail to the owner or call them on their cell phone.

    As the robots cost $3K, I imagine their cell phone alert would go something like

    Warning, intruder! Warning, intruder!......... Help! Help! I've been stolen!

  • The robot can also upload everything it hears and sees to the Internet. Say you're staying late at work and want to make sure your kids are doing their homework, Xie said. You can direct the robot around your house, find your kids and check up on them by viewing the robot's video online.

    I'm sure my childhood would have been loads better if a robot stalked me through the hallways.

The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky

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