Invasion Of The Robot Snatchers Coming To A Nursing Home Near You
You know all the people that never want to visit you when you're old? They have no excuse now. They can just hit a few keys on their computers and hop into the body of the uBOT-5, clean out the cat box or make your bed while they chat with you about how great it is that you have a robot to take care of you. And you get to see your caller in the video monitor that substitutes for the head of the robot.
In case you're interested, the uBOT-5 is a project of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst laboratory of Perpetual Robotics, and the current prototypes cost $65,000 per unit. Co-inventor of uBOT-5, Rod Grupen, says his development team would like to get the price down to $5,000 plus a monthly fee... by that time, the uBOT-5 should be capable of testing your blood sugar and taking your pulse and blood pressure.
Like our old friend R2-D2, uBOT-5 has sensors designed to respond like the human body; it would be nice if it were as fun to have around as R2-D2.
At another lab, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing the robot as an autonomous wheelchair. I don't like the word 'autonomous' when used to describe the way a 'wheelchair' gets around. What if it decides to whiz me around in an uncontrollable spurt of energy and I have vertigo? Supposedly though, the robot wheelchair will respond to a verbal command, once it knows its way around.
At a Georgia Tech laboratory, a robot is being fashioned after a service dog, because of the cost ($16,000) of properly training a real dog to be a service dog. This robot will be capable of opening drawers, turning doorknobs and working light switches.
I see some job opportunities here; not for robots, but for people and real live dogs. There's been a nursing shortage for several years. How about the laid off stockbrokers and auto workers retraining for nursing or home healthcare jobs? Or what about dog training as a career? I'm sure it won't cost $16,000 to train a service dog if there are more trainers around. And think of all the dogs that can be rescued and put into service for us old people. Now that would be wonderful for Gramps and Grandma and the service dog in many ways.
This robot stuff has its place, I guess, but there's no substitute for a real life
Sources: Medline, Engadget, io9 Thanks for the tip Diana !
Keeping you posted...