Feeds

Laser designated step'n'fetch wrinkle-robutler shown

In-home pachyderm tech enters grey lifestyle sector

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

When speaking of cutting-edge robotic systems directed to their target using a dot from a laser designator, one is usually talking about a smart bomb or some other frightful modern day engine of death. But, as so often, this deadly tech sword has now been beaten into a ploughshare - or as we have here, an elderly person's butler with tenuous elephant theming.

The droid stepin fetchit wrinkle-butler in action

Thanks, Ellie, need to wipe m'eyes after

burnin' them with this here damn laser.

The Health Systems Initiative - a joint venture of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University - is proud to announce "El-E (pronounced like the name Ellie)". El-E is a one-armed household robot, perhaps more reminiscent of an ambulatory hatstand than an elephant, but nonetheless named by the GIT/Emory profs "for the arm's resemblance to an elephant trunk".

"We humans naturally point at things but... we use the context of the situation or verbal cues to clarify which object is important," said Dr Charlie Kemp, one of GIT/Emory's top biomedical brainboxes.

"Robots have some ability to retrieve specific, predefined objects, such as a soda can, but retrieving generic everyday objects has been a challenge for robots."

The idea is that the wrinkly owner/user of future El-Es has dropped something on the floor, and finds him or herself unable to pick it up; or perhaps the thing is across the room, and going to fetch it would be a pain. Trying to tell a normal robot what you wanted would be an onerous business involving tiresome voice commands or some kind of remote TV gadget.

With El-E, one simply lights up the necessary item with a laser pointer, and the servile droid scurries to collect it. Provided, of course, that one hasn't dropped the damn laser pointer.

Having picked the thing up, the droid can then be directed to put it down again somewhere else by laser - or give it to someone. It accomplishes this last option by "looking for a face near the selected location. If the robot detects a face, it carefully moves toward the person and presents the item to the user so it can be taken. It uses the location of the face and legs to determine where it will present the object".

Apparently, the prototype droid butler can already pick up and hand over "towels, pill bottles, and telephones".

The GIT/Emory boffins see El-E as just a stepping-stone to more advanced in-home robo services. They raise the prospect of automatic chef and hairdressing options, as well as simply tidying the place up.

"If you want a robot to cook a meal or brush your hair, you will probably want the robot to first fetch the items it will need," says Kemp. Which does sound fair enough.

Read all about it here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.