Posted at 2:00 PM on November 26, 2008
by Sanden Totten
What kind of robot do you want for Christmas? One that can dig your car out of the snow and shovel your walkway while you drink your morning coffee? How about a massage-bot that knows shiatsu? Or dog-bot to walk your shitzu?
The robotics team at M.I.T. would settle for much less. "We'd all be so happy if we could do something with the fetching skills of a dog," says Leslie P. Kaelbling.
Yes, a world of smart, self-sufficient robots is still as far away as one where every voter in Minnesota knows how to fill out a ballot correctly. But according to a recent article from the New York Times, chore-bots are slowly becoming a reality.
You've already got the "Roomba" -- a robot that vacuums your floor. How about a "Goomba" -- a robot to tend your garden? Robotics students are already working with the prototype. They've got a cute little weed-whacker of a bot that knows when to water and can pick out unwanted plants. It can even do some fetching:
" . . . A salad-minded person may solicit the system, saying, I need some tomatoes. Find the ripest five, pick them and set them aside."
It'll be a while before you can add this gadget to your wish list though. In the meantime, dream big. If these M.I.T. experts were going to design you your dutiful dream robot, what would it do?
I need an Trauma-Preventing Aquarium Robot that keeps my tragically short-lived goldfishies alive. And if a fish should inadvertantly go belly-up, my Trauma-Preventing Aquarium Robot would gently remove it from the tank, give it a proper burial, and replace the floating carcass with a new, lively, completely identical goldfish before I got home. Ignorance is bliss!