The Robotic Home Assistant
Companies such as Tesla and Boston Dynamics have in the last few years actively worked towards the utopian idea of having a robotic personal assistant in the home. Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, believes one day that these home robots will be cheaper than a vehicle and in billions of homes. Though neither company has achieved this yet, there has been a lot of progress that is worth exploring.
Boston Dynamics has already completed a sort of early trial for these types of robots with its Spot robot dog. Though this robot has been used as more of an industrial machine it already has some aspects that these future robots will contain. These robotic dogs can use an arm attachment that will allow them to open doors or fetch objects from around a workspace. And although currently the most popular use case for these robots is surveillance, their ability to interact with objects; even if rudimentary in its current form, is a clear precursor for what kinds of features these future home robots will have. In fact, Boston Dynamics experimental atlas robot is an even closer look to where we may be in a decade from now. This Altas robot is already capable of walking on two legs and interacting with objects using its rudimentary hands. Though there is clearly a lot more work required to get from where we are now to where these companies believe we will be.
Elon Musk has recently announced his company’s humanoid robot will begin to arrive next year, though Musk is often criticized for giving overly optimistic timetables. Musk made it clear that this robot is not a household unit, but they will sell to anyone who wants one. “It’s intended to be friendly, of course, and navigate through a world of humans, and eliminate dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks,” said Musk during an interview with CNBC reporters. Currently the complete list of tasks that this robot will be able to perform at launch has not been made available to the public. However, through speculation one could infer that it might be able to clean up clutter around the house or do dishes, make food, even go pick up groceries.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that this robot will have all the functionality that users will inevitably want, however it will be a very solid first step towards a world with robot assistants.