For those worried about a dystopian future where humans serve robot overlords, there has always been one brake on full robot autonomy: power. Whether it's the batteries in a Roomba or the fuel in a Predator drone, robots always relied on humans for their energy. Now, thanks to a company started by one of the founders of Google, robots are heading for more self-sufficiency than ever before.
As reported in The New York Times, the company Willow Garage has created a robot that can successfully navigate an office building in search of an electrical outlet, and then plug itself in for recharging once it finds one. And while other past robots have been able to open doors or recharge themselves without input from humans, this robot, known as PR2, is the first robot to combine those two features, and thus represents a landmark in automaton autonomy.
PR2 uses a combination of range-finding lasers and cameras to navigate around its Americans with Disabilities Act compliant office (the lack of stairs and round doorknobs make it easy on the robot). The Willow Garage engineers also programmed PR2 to avoid locked doors, moving on to more accessible outlets instead.
As one of the scientists mentions in the article, "Now they can escape and fend for themselves."
Jeez, I don't know whether to order PR2 to clean Elroy's room or to blow it up before it figures out time travel and kills John Connor.
Check out a clip of the robot plugging itself in below:
[via NY Times]
Give me an IRobot scenario and I'll give you five heroes lined up and ready to fight the menace, without even looking more than a hundred yards to find them.
Honestly thats a pretty lame robot, all it does is open doors and rob you of power.
Round door knobs are our last salvation!
I wonder if the hand can feel the door knob pressure when gripping or just squeezes and turns it.
It also appears to be having trouble finding the precise location of the holes in the outlet, as compared to the plug. What sort of space relations technology is out there?
This article seems to totally contradict itself.
The first paragraph states: "robots always relied on humans for their energy".
The very next paragraph states: "And while other past robots have been able to open doors or recharge themselves without input from humans".
So I take it the first paragraph (most important paragraph) is completely false. Lame.
This thing is as bad as my kids, it never closes the door behind it.
Nice robot, hope I will have some on my house in the future.
Interesting post on a robot
Did you notice the sheets of paper taped to the walls with the black and white checkered pattern, similar to the one on the robots plug? It makes me believe this is not as autonomous as they suggest.
I always believed I would live in the Jetsons era. I am that close and this guy would be my best friend, that is for sure. Great work!
I too new that one day we would be close to living as my favorite cartoon characters, The Jetsons. I too see a liking to many families choices to go simple and live like the Flintstones. Who copies who?
Well it’s about time that modern science invented a robot that looks for power outlets to recharge itself, so it can look for outlets so it can recharge itself so it can look for outlets so it can recharge itself...ad infinitum. Money well spent.