Wired News: The Age of Cheap, Plastic Robots


As a robot enthusiast and, dare I say, practitioner, there are three trends in consumer/entertainment robotics that I’m tracking and which have opportunities for much deeper exploration.

  • gladiator machines – BattleBots. Where are the ballet robots? Machines with sensitivity? When will it become about the performance art and not the hobbyist exploitation? When will people be paying $100 a ticket to walk into a concert hall to watch machines perform?
  • Maid robots – roomba, scooba, et al. With their reluctant acceptance of hacking irobot has become an implicit supporter of robotic machine art. (see Make Roomba serial hack page). How else can we hack our modern appliances to make them do things they should not be doing? When will we be able to buy an appliance “blank” from the store and customize it to do exactly what we need in our own homes?
  • Robot Toys – robot dogs (aibo and the too-many-to-count variants) – what is the Lego of robotics (and Mindstorms doesn’t count… it’s too expensive and too constrained) – think “tinkertoy” non-proprietary components. When will robot pets breed?

(I disagree with Wired’s definition of robot, below. I would argue that a vast majority of robots don’t usually replicate complicated behaviors of human beings. They just perform rote mechanics, altering their behavior in response to inputs from their environment – more like bugs than simians).

Wired News: The Age of Cheap, Plastic Robots:

To be fair, these aren’t all robots in the scientific sense of “a machine designed to replicate the complicated behaviors of human beings,” but rather the marketing sense of, “You know, a robot! Like, a future thing, but cute. And it should have silver parts.”

(via weblogsky)

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