Where can a robot go if it has no legs?

Artificial Intelligent software is increasingly everywhere in our lives: search, voice prompts, phones, kiosks, email, drawing images, etc. There is a lot of money being poured into robotics and for good reason. Robots are physical manifestations of AIs. Robots and the physical world are making progress slowly. Robots are much harder to build than the software because of the physics of the world. Our machines are not fluid. We don’t have the technology to build flexible moving body parts like nature does. The motion and flexibility of robots is nowhere near any biological creature. Almost all consumer available robots use wheels: roomba, adibot, double robotics, Miko 3, Anki etc. They are so much easier to build and get into production, but there is a hidden price to using wheels: they are useless for moving around.

The natural world is not meant for wheels: going up a mountain, walking on dirt, moving through a forest, etc. No robot with wheels can move through this terrain. This is even more true for the human world. The human world is built for bipedal movement: houses with stairs, walking over gaps, sitting in a car, etc. These are all places that a robot can’t access.

Boston Dynamics has been building robots that can walk and they have been making a lot of progress. Their robots are sold as “research platforms” They are not available for regular consumers. As of now though, robots literally can’t go anywhere except for flat uniform surfaces. How many of you are on a flat uniform all day? There will be an explosion of robotics when a company is able to figure out how to create robots with legs that can navigate around our world in the same places that we do. Just some silly examples of what you could do:

  • hide and seek robots
  • robot chaperons for children
  • robot companions for older people
  • robots to help you fetch items
  • robots to clean the house
  • robots to map a new area
  • robots to help protect you
  • robots that drive regular cars

Until then, our robots will continue to be “stuck in the mud”.

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