I love how so much of what's recognized as practical robotics research nowadays seems to be largely motivated by programmers who are hungry, thirsty, bored, and too lazy to do anything about it themselves: "well, I could go get myself a drink, or instead I could just program this robot to get me one instead! Yeah, let's do that!"
In practice, of course, there's no laziness involved, and the problems tackled by these demonstrations are complex and highly relevant to everything from object recognition to grasping strategies to autonomous navigation. So what if successful completion of a task happens to involve a tangible reward for those hard-working roboticists? They've absolutely earned it.
This latest hackathon from Bosch's research lab in Palo Alto, Calif., involves a PR2 and a TurtleBot joining forces to take drink orders over the internet. The Bosch PR2, named Alan, is tethered to a ceiling-mounted power plug, so he's in charge of handling the fridge, choosing the right drink, and picking it up, while the TurtleBot (named BusBot) takes care of the actual delivery:
It does kinda look like the guy who gets the drink at the end is not the same as the guy who ordered the drink in the first place, but that's understandable. I'm sure to a robot, all us biological meatbags look pretty much the same.
[ Bosch RTC ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.