The German film Metropolis premiered in March of 1927. In the years since its release it has become a classic among multiple generations, who consider it a pioneering work of art in the science-fiction genre. The centerpiece of the film is a robot named Maria, played by Brigitte Helm. At the time of the film’s release, the likeness was groundbreaking. Maria was not the first robot in film, but the character is arguably the most popular; since, it has inspired a number of other replicas in popular culture, due to our fascination with artificial intelligence and animated machinery. Each of these were rooted in fantasy, yet as life often imitates art, recent developments show that cohabitational robots are becoming much more of a reality than many have imagined.
Take the next generation Atlas robot, for example. Created by Boston Dynamics, the robot is shown in the video here as being capable of navigating snowy and rather difficult grounds, which Extreme Tech describes as an incredible feat that took humans half a billion years to master, in terms of evolution. The second generation Atlas also has the intelligence to realize when something has been moved–such as the boxes which it’s also able to lift and place on a shelf–to recover from resistance, and to even stand up on its own after being knocked over. The machine is downright fascinating and it’s just one of the advancements we’ve seen this year.
Aido, a personal robot that responds to voice commands and even plays with children, will be in people’s homes as soon as this fall. Like some of the machines we’ve seen in movies, the bot responds to touch through haptic sensors, which allows it move throughout the home or office. One of the more incredible features is its built in face recognition technology, and ability to communicate what it seen. For entertainment purposes, the robot is reported to have the ability to control electronics devices throughout the home as well.
To be expected later in the future, is a robot created to help the elderly, providing assistance and companionship. Embedded with a sense of emotions and capable of bringing past conversations to memory, the goal of the robot, Nadine, is said to help patients suffering from dementia diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Almost 50 million people suffer from dementia worldwide, and because there is no treatment, any assistance that can facilitate living with the disease is certainly welcome. There is no current release for Nadine but the technology is there.
These developments are but a few debuting this year. This list from Robotics Trends shares more of what consumers and purveyors of artificial intelligence can expect in the next few months, based on revelations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As a society, we seem to be moving into future more quickly than ever. Whether it’s playing with children, moving boxes, or having conversations with the elderly, these scientific advancements are turning fantasies into reality, one research project at a time.