Robots are no longer clunky and bulky creepers who can barely justify their very existence. 2017 is another year of heavy development for all robot manufacturers and research engineers out there, and while truly useful robotic systems are still limited in industrial environments, we are starting to see the first rays of light of the era of the robots in the sense of what we’re going to see outside the manufacturing plants and way beyond the “home assistant” premise. Here are three characteristic examples that showcase the amazing leaps that robotics have done in the last few years, and how this development manifestates in the early 2017.
Handle is the latest addition in Boston Dynamics’ galore of special-purpose robots. Unlike the previous robots from this pioneering manufacturer, this one is the first to feature wheels, and it can use them in an impressive manner. Handle can reach a max speed of 14.5 km/hr, it can jump to a height of 1.6 meters, and it can cover a maximum distance of up to 24.1 kilometers! Now, you do the math and figure out if you can get away from a Handle that was programmed to hunt you down. 🙂
If you’re thinking “I will take the stairs”, or “enter a rough terrain plain”, watching the following video will make you reconsider your options. Thankfully, Boston Dynamics didn’t design this robot to hunt people down but to carry things around seamlessly.
Forpheus isn’t a robot that was first released in 2017, but it has now come to a point when it can really perform a very complicated activity that involves human training and table tennis. Both of these elements are a whole world of complexity on their own, but Omron who is the company behind Forpheus has brought their robotic tutor to an operational point that is comparable to a human table tennis teacher. The robot uses a highly advanced control system that allows it to monitor the actions of the human that is playing with, predict the trajectory of the ball even before this is hit by the player, identify the Achilles’ hill of a player and develop highly targeted training programs that will help the athlete improve their skills.
Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute has recently presented their new robot approach during the CES 2017 where visitors of their booth had the chance to play a game of chess with it as well as get some hot coffee served to them. These however, aren’t the only things that ITRI’s robot can do, but only a couple of examples. This is where its uniqueness lies, as this robot is a “freeform” one that can learn, recognize objects, locations, item sizes and positions, and movement patterns, and it can adapt to what it is expected to do. This is a great example of what we’re going to be seeing from now on, as robots will become more versatile and less based on their intrinsic programming.