Feeds

Laser designated step'n'fetch wrinkle-robutler shown

In-home pachyderm tech enters grey lifestyle sector

New hybrid storage solutions

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.