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  The Ultimate Robotics Source
The Ultimate Robotics Source!

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October 12, 1999

Talk to just about anyone about home robots and you will inevitably hear the question, "Yeah, but will will it actually do?"   This editorial will help to answer that question.

What Home Robots Can Do Right Now

Here are some benefits that home robots offer (or could offer) today:

Cye and the Carebot will vacuum the house, even if you're not at home!

Automated Hauling
Several home robots will carry dishes and other small loads from room to room.  A friend, recovering from hip surgery, used his Cye to carry food from the kitchen to the living room, and the dirty dishes back into the kitchen again.  Since he was on crutches, this was a real lifesaver.

Home robots could easily be tied into a computerized home security system, and the robot's mobility would allow more areas in the home to be protected. 
Alarm Clock
With a little work I will soon be able to use Cybert as an alarm clock.   Every morning he will roll into my bedroom and wake me up; once he senses that I'm out of bed he will follow me into the bathroom and deliver up-to-the minute news, weather, sports, and stock market information.
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Home Automation
It would be a fairly easy task to connect a robot to an X10 home automation system.  The robot, linked to your PC, would then have access to lights, security features, and more.
Robotics is an exciting hobby for many people around the world. There are countless clubs, websites, and books that have been written for those who are interested in the topic. 
Additionally, home robots can play games, tell jokes, sing songs, and even dance to music!
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Using a home robot like Cye not only teaches about robotics, it teaches spatial navigation, mapping, ded reckoning, programming, and more.
Hazard Detection
It would be fairly easy to attach fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, and other detectors to a home robot. Every night the robot could "make the rounds" to ensure that everything is okay.
What Home Robots will Be Able To Do in the Future

The technology and software are improving every year, and with these advancements we will begin to see some very exciting home robot applications in the next few years.  By 2005 we should have robots capable of the following:

In a few years it should be possible to tell your home robot "Get me a beer!" Using robot vision and an arm, the robot would navigate to the kitchen, open the refrigerator door, grab a beer off a bottom shelf, close the door, and return.

Plant Watering
Future robots could carry water in a storage container, and use this to water plants, or even fill a pets bowl.

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Hazard Detection
It would be fairly easy to attach fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, and other detectors to a home robot. Every night the robot could "make the rounds" to ensure that everything is okay.

Pest Control
Small robots may one day scurry around our homes at night, locating and smashing cockroaches and other unwanted guests (no, I'm not talking about your mother-in-law.).

Advanced Home Security and Management
Robots in the near future will use advanced AI (artificial intelligence) to monitor our homes, make sure everything is functioning properly and watch out for intruders.

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Child Care
The technology already exists to use a robot to check on the kids while we are away from the house.  Probotics will soon add a camera and an Internet interface for Cye that would allow someone to "drive" the robot around from a remote computer and receive live pictures of everything that Cye "sees".       

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