Robots - Movies v/s Reality
[This blog post initially appeared in Roboconhelp, India’s Robotics helps blog.]
Hi fellow and future Roboticists, ‘iRoboticist’ column will discuss the past, present and future of Robotics. Robotics is a very wide field and can be categorised into several verticals like Industrial, Educational, Personal, Automotive etc. In every newsletter, I will select and dive deep into one vertical of robotics.
There are many beliefs and views about what a “Robot” is. Hollywood (& Bollywood) has shaped people’s idea of Robot as an evil humanoid machine. To be a Roboticist, it is first necessary for you to understand what a Robot actually is.
A robot is a mechanical or virtual artificial agent, usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or remotely controlled and range from a washing machine to Nano robots, ‘swarm’ robots, humanoids and industrial robots. By mimicking a lifelike appearance or automating movements, a robot may convey a sense of intelligence or thought of its own. The branch of technology that deals with robots is called robotics.
All of the following are classified as Robots, and yes that includes washing machines too.
To begin with, lets start with Movies. Movies have some amazing robots (realistic and graphics), but which of them are real/possible. I have listed my top favourites robots below. Let’s explore how feasible these robots are with technology today:
C-3PO and R2-D2 - Star Wars : Possibly the most famous robot pair of all time. C-3PO and R2-D2 are legends, but in terms of their technology, they might have been very advanced back in late 1970’s when the movie series begin, but are very much possible to be made in terms of mechanics and electrical system but their artificial intelligence is shown to be superior to where we are today.
Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger played the character a bit too human, but most of the technology shown does exist today. Not to forget, the next DARPA Grand challenge is based on Autonomous Humanoid robots, so we are not that far behind. However, time travel still seems like science fiction (maybe Higgs Boson discovery can help get there soon).
Jhonny 5 - Short Circuit: Jhonny 5 was shown as a creation of unnatural cause. It was made by human, but the A.I was due to a lightning. However, we are far superior in terms of hardware technology than what Jhonny 5 was, but AI wise, there still a lot for our current generation of robots to learn. However, instead of T.V, it’s the internet where they will be learning from :)
Transformers: As with the movie, for transformers to exist, they need to be Aliens. Transformers are one of the most recent additions to the science-fiction world, however, they are also more of a fiction from scientific point of view. Human Technology is still a long way from replicating the functionality (and transformation) for the robots as showcased by movies, but who knows, maybe in a decade or two, we will have them around as our mode of transport. (FYI, Autonomous Cars do already exists, they just don’t transform into a robot, yet!)
Sonny - I,Robot: Based on Isaac Asimov’s book, the robot is shown as to have adapted to human’s way of thinking and develop emotion like humans. There are two different types of robot, one with collective intelligence, connected to mothership and then we have an individual thinker. Both types of robots are in work today, the mothership connected are now called Cloud based Robots, which are connected to internet and other one’s are autonomous, independent robot. However, as shown in movie, the Cloud-based robots are more likely to be the first to market. Lets prepare for the war then!
J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) - Ironman: JARVIS is internet-of-things exemplified. JARVIS is a network of connected devices, with intelligence to process voice command as well as execute highly complex task without need of any programming. Today we are in version 1 of this technology with our smartphones, tablets, laptops, homes and cars all getting connected. It might not be more than a decade for this type of system to be in existence all around us.
Rosie - Jetsons: Jetson’s cartoon is a benchmark of what humans want their lives to be like. Roboticists, for years, have tried to develop technology for house-hold robots inspired by Rosie. Everything from Roomba to PR2 (Willow Garage) has a bit of Rosie aspiration to it. With the rapid development in robots and open-source movement, Rosie will soon be with us. Faster than you can imagine.
I could not cover all of the robots here, but feel free to leave your comments on the blog below. Also tell me what you think about the state-of-technology today and what would you like to see being the next step in robotics.