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Robots taking over household chores?

Friday, December 02, 2011 - 02:33

Dec. 2 - The Robotville exhibition at London's Science Museum demonstrates the growing importance of robots in fields such as research, health and education. Joanna Partridge reports.

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How about a robot to help you out around the house? Or a spare pair of hands in the kitchen? The new Robotville exhibition at London's Science Museum takes a look at the role robots are increasingly playing in our everyday lives. Many of the robots have been developed in European research labs. For instance, development of "Dora the Explorer" is being led by Birmingham University where Nick Hawes is a lecturer. SOUNDBITE: Nick Hawes, Lecturer in Computer Science at Birmingham University, saying (English): "Dora's a curious robot, that can explore her surroundings and build up a map. Once she's got a map she can then do tasks for you like finding objects and navigating round the home. We could start off seeing much sort of smaller versions of this being advances on the current cleaning technology, so hoovering robots, mopping robots, and there's some lawnmowing robots, but you could then incorporate this mapping technology and the exploration technology, so they could find new places to clean, they could find the dirty spot under your sofa, things like that." 2011 marks the 90th anniversary of the first recorded use of the word robot in a play by Czech writer Karel Capek. Robotville showcases robots with different applications - from humanoid ones to ones used to perform surgery. Kat Nilsson is Contemporary Science Manager at the Science Museum. SOUNDBITE: Kat Nilsson, Contemporary Science Manager at the Science Museum, saying (English): "There's some really, really interesting projects going on in Europe that really are cutting edge. If you look at some of the hands, the movement really is lifelike." But robots aren't just for the future. Meet KASPAR - designed to help during therapy for austistic children who aren't really able to interact with the outside world. UPSOUND "Here it's looking mischievous and thinking about things" Dag Syrdal is a researcher at the University of Hertfordshire. SOUNDBITE: Dag Syrdal, Researcher at the University of Hertfordshire, saying (English): "Interacting with a human over time can be stressful and tiring, and so what KASPAR becomes is a safe middle object, a mediator, from which the therapist can then interact with the child through it by using human-like emotions, but they're not real human emotions, so they're easier to relate to for the child and through that they can learn how to interact better with other humans." Robots are already helping us to learn more and do less. Developers say it'll be a long time before they're doing all our chores - but these exhibits demonstrate Europe's leading role in robot research and design. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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Robots taking over household chores?

Friday, December 02, 2011 - 02:33