Speculations are high now days that in coming 5 to 10 years we are likely to see humanoid robots (human-like machines) helping elderly at public places, guiding visitors at shopping malls and exhibitions, cleaning floors at hospitals, and doing much more helping humans in every possible way.
According to a research conducted by ABI, unlike present day personal robots performing single specific task, multitasking humanoid robots would be common place and consumers would be spending as much on them as for a new car by the year 2015.
Imagine when robots are guiding a museum tour and offering cup of tea to hosts for their owner. This is not a scene of Sci-Fi film. Companies are creating and commercializing humanoid robots with equivalent capacities. The South Korean government has also announced plans to build two robot theme parks, designed to include amusement parks, exhibition halls, and stadiums.
PAL Robotics, a Spanish robotics R & D Company established in 2004 at Barcelona, Spain has been developing and marketing personal humanoid robots since 2005 with progressively advancing series. Their first generation of robots, called REEM-A was developed in 2005 and this robot took part in RoboCup competition held in Bremen in 2006They introduced REEM-B in 2008, which can walk dynamically, recognize and grasp objects, lift heavy objects and move around by itself inside any building complex without running into any obstacles. It can also speak with people and has voice recognition skills.
The latest robot developed by PAL Robotics is REEM-H, which can help you as a guide or amuse you as an entertainer. It can also transport small packages, and its dynamic information point can be used with a wide variety of multimedia applications: display an interactive map of the surrounding area, call up a variety of information (weather, nearby restaurants, airlines travels time, etc…), offer tele-assistance via video-conferencing. It can be used in a wide spectrum of public spaces as for example hotels, museums, trade shows, special events, shopping malls, airports, hospitals, care centers and many others.
While going through robotics research website, I came across an interesting blog Life in the Robotics Lab, which well describes how scientists work in a robotics lab. Blog also mentions a couple of contests in robotics field and inviting entries.
With advancement in sensor and motor technologies, and developments in software for artificial intelligence, it is expected that we will see personal humanoid robots helping us every where around us in next few years.