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Weird French Robot Reeti Wants To Be Your Home Theater

This weird little robot from France is great at making funny faces, and may be good at other stuff, too... We’re just not quite sure what

2 min read
Weird French Robot Reeti Wants To Be Your Home Theater

This curious really kinda weird looking robot is Reeti, who’s apparently what you get when a robot and a media center PC have offspring. Reeti is designed to provide an interface between your TV and your computer, offering a variety of additional capabilities, or something... I’m honestly not quite sure what it, um, does.

Setting practical uses aside, Reeti is very emotionally expressive, considering its relative simplicity. It has cheeks that glow to communicate mood, and there are touch sensors in its face to enable it to react when you prod it. Each of Reeti’s eyes has its own HD camera, and its 3D perceptual view lets it recognize people and objects and track motion. Reeti can understand (and localize) spoken commands, and its speech synthesis allows it to read emails and RSS feeds to you. Oh hey, something it can do!

If you’re still wondering what other things Reeti can do for you besides reading aloud, maybe this will answer your question:

Or, uh, maybe not.

I guess what I still don’t really understand is why I’d want a Reeti in my house. I mean, I want one, because it’s a robot, and it’s expressive and funny looking, but at this point I’m not quite sure what Reeti plans to do for me that I couldn’t do more efficiently with a mouse and keyboard, you know? It looks like Reeti is designed to be more of an open platform where people can write their own apps to extend the capabilities of the robot, which is fine, but if you look at what makes an app store successful, they’re mostly targeted towards devices with enough inherent capability that you can establish a large, happy consumer base without any apps at all, creating your own market. So that goes back to my original question: what can Reeti do for me?

Setting practical uses aside (for the second time), I do appreciate Reeti’s overall aesthetic, if you can call it that. Reeti is likely as strange looking as it is, in order to distance itself from any sort of anthropomorphic impressions. It’s got eyes and a mouth to help it communicate, but it’s so far from looking human that we don’t get caught up in how it doesn’t look human, if that makes sense.

Reeti is made by the French company Robopec, and apparently there will be some way of pre-ordering one at some point for about $7,000 (!). Until we get a little more information on all of the spectacular and amazing things that Reeti may or may not be able to do, though, I’d hold off adopting one of these little guys, unless you’re so smitten that it’s already too late.

[ Reeti ] via [ Robots Dreams ] and [ CNET ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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