While not as elaborate or lifelike as Rosie, the housekeeper in The Jetsons, today's robots are able to do everything from vacuuming floors and mixing drinks to helping patients recover from strokes. Here, InnovationNewsDaily gives you a peek at the seven most useful robots you can get your hands on today.
Probably the best known of electronic household helpers, the Roomba currently sucks up dirt and other gunk from the floors of 2 million homes. Place this Frisbee-shaped vacuum in the middle of a room, turn it on, and watch it make its way from wall to wall and even under furniture.<br><br> Price: $200-$600, depending on the model.
Want a pet but don't want to clean up after it? This furry seal is a mix between Fido and your favorite stuffed animal. Covered in five types of sensors that detect light, touch, sound, temperature and posture, Paro knows when it's being petted and cuddled, and even responds to its name. Paro also changes its behavior in response to its owner. For example, if the pet owner says Paro's name while giving it a belly rub, Paro will remember what it did to deserve such a treat and will repeat that activity to earn another.<br><br> Paro was developed by Japan-based AIST as a therapy treatment for patients in hospitals and extended-care facilities, where actual furry pets aren't allowed. It's been shown to be just as beneficial for patients as the real things.
Rovio is a WiFi-enabled, camera-wielding robot that zooms around your home while you're away. That way you can check up on your plants and other valuables ? perhaps, with luck, from some remote beach. This wheeled robot takes webcams to the next level and is equipped with a head-mounted camera, microphone and LED for seeing in the dark. It also has GPS, which lets you set waypoints, or routes in your home for the robot to travel. While it can't climb walls to get a bird's-eye view, the camera is attached to a moveable arm that can move up and down and sideways to give different viewing angles. Rovio can be controlled via a cell phone or computer from anywhere.
The telepresence robot Vgo lets you be in two places at once. With this sleek robot ? 48 inches (1.2 meters) tall and about 16 pounds (7.3 kilograms) ? the user can see, hear, talk, interact and move around a remote location as if he or she were there. So you'd just sit down at your computer, rev up the bot and use its cameras and sensors to meander a remote place. Others will know it's you, as the robot's "face" is an iPad that displays your mug shot. It's a little expensive for most personal budgets ($5,000 per bot); Vgo is mainly used in the office or as a training tool.<br><br> Other telepresence bots include Anybots' QB robot and Willow Garage's Texai.
Autom is a conversational robot that helps you lose weight. She talks to you in the morning about your eating and exercise plans for the day and gives you feedback and encouragement to keep you motivated. Just like a personal trainer, this female-voiced bot, developed by Hong Kong-based Intuitive Automata Inc., constantly adapts to what seems to work for its user. The company is currently taking pre-orders.
Shaped like a dome, this litter box eliminates the need to scoop out your cats' waste. The system senses when the pet has left the litter box, waits seven minutes (enough time for the goods to clump), then rotates to filter out the stinky clumps and push them into a drawer below.
While it's not really useful, we couldn't have a list of commercial bots without including this baby dinosaur. Pleo, the artificial pet, starts out as a newly hatched dinosaur and matures over time, showing all the signs of an infant, juvenile, and adult. Weighing 8.8 pounds (4 kilograms), Pleo is like a living, breathing pet as it gets hungry and tired, changes its mood, and feels urges to explore. Pleo sells for $469.