dreambots wheeme

There are several therapeutic robots out there, but this one is a bit different. While robots like Paro the baby seal require you to stroke them, the DreamBots Wheeme caresses you.

According to the company, this massage robot uses "unique tilt sensor technology" to move slowly across a person's body "without falling off or losing its grip." As the bot roams around, its four sprocket-like rubber wheels press gently on the skin.

Founded by a group of Israeli electronics and defense engineers, DreamBots will show off the WheeMe at CES next January. There's no word on price yet. The company admits the robot can't give you a deep tissue massage, because it's very light (240 grams, or 8.5 ounces). But they claim the device can provide "a delightful sense of bodily pleasure." 

It's unclear how big the market is for a body-rolling robot. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, watch the WheeMe navigate someone’s back:

Another video and more images:

dreambots wheeme

dreambots wheeme

dreambots wheeme

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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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