Many people these days, regardless of how much they like science fiction and how interested they are in technology in general, are hesitant about a certain technological advancement that should have interested them far more than it does – robotics. But that can be very easily explained by the path robotics has taken – so different from the one portrayed in so many a sci-fi movie, book or TV show.
The robots we have developed are creepy, weird-looking machines, either tumbling all the way down to the bottom of the uncanny valley or so far removed from looking humanoid that you might as well see them as creepy versions of the AIBO dog robot toys that came out in the late ‘90s.
So far, as much as experts have worked on developing robots that would be appropriate for personal use, they keep coming up short. But personal use isn’t the only area where the current products of robotics have not caught on as well as the experts behind them had hoped.
BigDog and Spot, the creepy robot pack mules that were being developed for the United States Marines, were finished, but they were rejected because they made too much noise. Meanwhile, the spiritual successor of AIBO, called NAO, is small and cute, but it doesn’t really look like anything more than a toy.
New robot presentation
During the most recent edition of the New Economic Summit in Japan, held in Tokyo, Alphabet’s Schaft introduces new bipedal robot that is somewhat reminiscent of Interstellar’s TARS. The robot isn’t yet complete, nor was it even named yet, it’s just that Google’s sister company wanted to show off the progress they’ve made so far.
And to be fair, it’s quite impressive. The robot’s main feature, at least so far, is its stability and mobility. The way it walks is the result of millions of dollars, with the machine having rigid legs that slide up and down a rail, as well as some sort of ankles at the bottom which allow it to keep its footing in even the most treacherous environments – stairs, the forest, and even stepping on a pipe couldn’t make it fall over.
What does this mean?
While the technology involved in the robot’s walking technique is truly impressive, we really don’t know anything else about it. Understandably, the company kept silent seeing as the project isn’t even nearly over, but the showcased abilities did give us a few hints as to the future of the industry.
So far, the thing every major robotics company is focusing is walking. Yeah, the process is apparently far more complicated than it would seem, and people are making it a priority over pretty much everything else. So I wouldn’t hold my breath for a non-creepy humanoid robot to come out anytime soon, but the progress might still impress some over the next half a decade or so.
You can watch the presentation by clicking on the link below, if you happen to be interested.
Image source: YouTube