Rosie, the robot who kept house for the title family in "The Jetsons," a 1960s animated television show, has at last come alive—sort of. Before you'll see a robot slicing cucumbers in your kitchen, researchers will need to make these mechanical servants smarter. Here's how three teams are tackling this challenge.
What: Robovie-II can help customers locate and carry products at a Kyoto supermarket.
How: ATR researchers say that a stand-alone robot is not suited for many real-world tasks. A better approach is to use "ubiquitous network robot technology"—a mix of robots, sensors, and virtual robots. Says Hiroshi Ishiguro, an ATR Fellow, Robovie-II is eager to offer suggestions: "If you're making a broccoli salad, you might want to get some lettuce as well." If you know what's good for you.