Do we still think that life with robots is just a science fiction drama?
Unfortunately robots are already here. Without fear or embarrassment, we can ask the questions: “When can I have a robot maid at home?”, or “Can I get a robot cook some day?”
In the US, although iRobot Rumba has become a handy household assistant for a few years by now, hardly we can associate the spinning dish as a real robot. MIT’s another new robotic product Jibo, a supposedly family social robot, has no eyes on the face. (See pic below.) The French Blue Frog Robotics’ The Buddy robot (See pic above), is a home monitor made of an integrated 8-inch tablet, but its cute-looking head is a bit too square.
In June 2015, the first kind of humanoid emotional robots “Pepper” had a flash sale of its first 1000 units in Japan. A joint venture of Softbank Robotics, Alibaba and Foxconn, it’s designed to read and respond to human emotions, but it has an obvious tablet “chest” which may not tolerate a hug easily.
Recently an influx of news came from China about the appearance of more human-looking robots in everyday life. A men was seen bringing eight robotic servants to a store. In a temple, a robotic monk can train the Buddhism disciples. Several cafes around the country started using robotic waiters while the human waiters complained that they are not good at carrying liquid yet. (See pic.)
A few weeks ago in April, the University of Science and Technology of China unveiled a first interactive lifelike robot called Jiajia (See pic) in a global science fair. The pretty robot, with deep learning and autonomous position-sensing capabilities powered by the cloud, can hear and respond. If you want to take her picture, she may tell you in her stiff computer voice that you should not to put the camera too close to her since it may make her face look fat.
Chinese are surpassing Japan in purchasing consumer robots. The robotic industry in China is growing at the 40+% per year since 2014. Among all the robotic units sold in the world since 2014, more than 20% are in China.
The US market may not be too far behind either. Jupiter Research predicted that by the end the decade, one in ten American households will own a consumer robot. In our idyllic countryside living, on a sunny weekend in the near future, we may see that a robot is mowing the lawn or doing other chores while the owner sips coffee or tea under the sun.