How far are we from having robots as assistive devices?

PR2 robot from Willow Garage

PR2 robot from Willow Garage (source:

One of the most interesting technologies emerging in the area of consuming services has to do with robotics. Currently, there are a number of cases where robots are used to serve people in specific situations. Such an example is a company based in South Korea named KIST has led the development of a humanoid teaching robot called Erki, which has been under trial for more than a year now as an assistant in primary school teaching. Using robots as assistants in public places can be quite challenging. There are a number of issues to take under account apart from the interface and the communication of the robot with humans. For example, how will the robot operate in a situation where a group of students try to vandalize it, what happens when a part of the robot breaks down, how often and how long does it need to be recharged? Read the rest of this entry »

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