The PR2 robot

Robotics is one of many areas where science fiction has travelled light years ahead of reality.


Robotics is one of many areas where science fiction has travelled light years ahead of reality.

Robotics is one of many areas where science fiction has travelled light years ahead of reality.

Robots in films can do pretty much everything that people can, only better, but for their counterparts in the real world, picking up an unfamiliar object, navigating around a new place or even opening a door can be considerable challenges.

The PR2 from US company Willow Garage can do these things, albeit much less deftly than your typical human, but for any more complex tasks, such as washing dishes or folding clothes, you’ll have to program it yourself. It could still be worth it to save time on chores, but with a price tag of US$400,000 (£255,000), it still isn’t quite as cost-effective as home help.

That isn’t really the point, of course. The hope is that the developer community will take up the challenge and program the robot to do a large variety of useful tasks. To this end, a discount of 30 per cent is being offered to outstanding open source developers and a number of PR2s are being given away to universities and businesses.

The ultimate vision is of a “robot app store” filled with software that will make us all ‘more productive at home and at work’.

But don’t worry: unless you scrub floors or tend machines, your job is probably safe for a while.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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