By B.N. Frank – Activist Post –
AI warnings from Elon Musk are nothing new either. In fact, last month he posted a video on YouTube warning humankind about it again. Nevertheless, recently he’s also been promoting his company’s plans for creating a new Tesla robot that uses AI.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Bot is a tease. These other robots are real
Tesla CEO Elon Musk spun up his attention machine last week’s, pulling the wraps off a humanoid robot that uses artificial intelligence to take over mundane tasks for people. The Tesla Bot, he says, will sport autopilot cameras and an information display instead of a face. It bears some similarity to a life-size Ken doll, assuming such a toy could lift 150 pounds.
Musk suggested the robot, which isn’t at prototype stage yet, could handle “dangerous, repetitive, boring” jobs like going to the store to buy groceries. That’s a mundane task and one that could be considered dangerous, assuming you’re prone to buying half gallon tubs of ice cream.
“Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice,” Musk said during the presentation at Tesla’s AI Day. “If you want to do it, you can, but you won’t need to do it.”
Musk said he hoped for a Tesla Bot prototype next year, but it’s anyone’s guess when you’ll run into one at your local Safeway. Musk has also told us we’re going to Mars, but no one’s brought back a souvenir T-shirt or snow globe yet. The Tesla Bot we saw was just a skinny dude in a weird onesie.
Still, robots are an alluring idea and have captured human imagination for more than a century. If you don’t want to wait for Tesla Bot — should it ever come — here are some robots you can experience right now:
Speaking of repetitive and boring tasks, the best established robot product line probably is for models that’ll clean your floors. iRobot started the trend with its Roomba line, but now there are plenty of other robot vacuum cleaners and floor moppers.
Makers of robot vacuum cleaners include iRobot, Eufy, Samsung and others.
Bots are coming… to your door. Around the world, companies are experimenting with robots that deliver directly to customers.
In Berkeley, California, a fleet of cute Kiwibots stirred up attention as they cruised the streets with meals for the city’s students. They also rankled. One man upset by their presence botnapped one of the machines, which police tracked with GPS.
No surprise, Amazon is in the delivery bot space. The company began its Scout delivery bot program two and a half years ago not far from its Seattle headquarters. Last month, Amazon said it was establishing a Scout R&D center in Helsinki. Google, Postmates and other companies are also working on robotic delivery services.
Robots can help with security and policing, at least in the eyes of companies selling the products, and you might see a real-world RoboCop in some parts of the world. Dubai is using a Pal Robotics creation as a police bot in malls and tourist areas. People can use it to get information, pay fines and report crimes.
Spot Mini didn’t fare well in New York City, though. The New York Police Department scrapped a contract for robot police dogs after criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other public concerns.
Even before COVID-19 wiped out business travel, some companies were arguing that you can save a bundle on airplane tickets if you make a virtual appearance at a remote site using a telepresence robot from a company like Double Robotics, which puts an iPad on a stalk that you can wheel around an office. Your face appears on the iPad screen so people know who they’re dealing with, and the iPad’s camera beams its view to your screen. Prices start at $4,000.
Lots of companies are trying to capitalize on parental hopes that their kid could be the next Elon Musk if only they buy the right educational robot. They might not actually be a fast track to a Carnegie Mellon engineering degree, but they can be fun and instructive.
The 4M Tin Can Robot is a cheap way to get started with mechanical entertainment. The $150 Wonder Workshop Dash robot is already assembled but lets kids control it through basic programming. And the $350 Lego Mindstorms 51515 Robot Inventor kit combines open-ended construction options with programming. If you want more-advanced built-in technology, the $489 Anki Vector has AI voice control and a camera.
What do you get when you cross a factory floor robot with a barista? Cafe X’s Gordon, a robot that makes coffee. They aren’t displacing college students working at Starbucks yet, but you can see one in action at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 3.