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Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Could it be?
Will robots ever evolve to the point of possessing human emotions, like the one in Spielberg's "A.I."? Some experts say it's more a question of when rather than if.
By Peter Mucha

This weekend, when Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence opens, moviegoers may wonder when scientists are likely to create a smart, emotional robot like the one played by Haley Joel Osment.
That day may be surprisingly near.
By the middle of this century, some experts predict, androids could be our mental equals - and on their way to becoming the planet's dominant creatures.
And robots are becoming more and more adept at human behavior.
Last fall Hasbro introduced a $100 doll called My Real Baby that senses touch and motion, changes its facial expressions, and seems to learn. It was developed by iRobot, a Massachusetts company founded by MIT's Brooks.
In February, two Japanese companies, Kokoro Co. and CAI, demonstrated that their S DOLL robot could hold a conversation; it understands speech and talks back, complete with gestures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Mobile Robots Start Rolling In 2001!
Peterborough, NH - ActivMedia Research LLC -

Today Mobile Robotics are where personal computers were in the early 1980s, poised for proliferation, with more than 3,500% projected growth in units and nearly 2,500% projected growth in dollars over the next five years. Mobile robot sales are expected to soar from $665 million in the year 2000 to more than $17 billion by 2005 according to a recent study by ActivMedia Research, LLC. Unlike their fixed-in-place industrial forebears, mobile `bots are free-ranging devices capable of an increasing range of tasks.

  • Technologies Coming of Age: Recent accomplishments allow robotics to blossom from programmed arms to intelligent autonomous mobile platforms. Near-term technical opportunities that will increase the rate of adoption include further evolution and cost-reduction in remote sensing, inspection and manipulation.

  • Enabling Technologies And Hurdles Today: Technical limitations that impede robotic progress include battery weight-to-capacity ratios, improved sensing accuracy-weight-cost ratios, wireless bandwidth limitations and better software / AI developments to support improved guidance and safety systems.

  • Cost-Benefit Ratio Improving: The Robotics Industry Association reports that in the past decade the price of an average industrial robot dropped to one-fifth of the 1990 cost of an equivalent robot, bringing industrial robotics ROI down to about one to two years.

  • Monday, June 25, 2001

    Robots march forward - both on screen and off
    June 24, 2001
    By Jim Krane, Associated Press technology writer

    NEW YORK - In the new science fiction movie "A.I.," humans build robots in their own image, using them for companionship, sex and as surrogate children.
    Disturbingly, the robots begin to express human emotions, to love, to dream.
    Outrageously far fetched? Maybe not.
    Some prominent real-world researchers who work in the field believe the film's robots - played by human actors with special-effects help - are a reasonable approximation of where robotics is headed.
    But it's anybody's guess when robots might encompass human intelligence.
    Currently, scientists working on humanoid robots - that is, robots designed in the form of a human - are focused on building machines that can understand and obey voice commands, not issue them.
    "If the movie showed the level we're working on today, it wouldn't be a good movie," said Maja Mataric, a robotics researcher at the University of Southern California.
    Japanese firms Honda and Sony have already built humanoids that can walk, wave and make some rudimentary dance steps. Within a decade, the robots ought to begin handling their design purpose: caring for Japan's burgeoning elderly population.
    When Honda unveiled its P-3 humanoid, a plastic-sheathed robot that looks like a slimmed-down Michelin Man, U.S. government agencies began funding humanoid robot researchers like Mataric, whose robot Adonis is learning to dance the Macarena.