June 16, 2005

PC Magazine: "Robotics: Grow Up!"

ABC News: Robotics: Grow Up!

An interesting, if a tad harsh, article on how the US robotics field is filled with a lot of companies who want to build robots, but don't have a successful business proposal for the product (iRobot being the exception).

Calling it adolescent is being kind. Robotics has been around for decades, but the idea of it having any serious business potential (aside from the big strides made in industry) is a relatively new concept. I would argue that it wasn't until the surprising success of iRobot's Roomba that people began to wonder openly about when the next big thing or army of things would arrive.

Granted, after a while, I'm looking at these robotics and seeing little if any people trying for a practical application -- including, in my opinion, Japan. Practical robotics really means building intelligent machines to do the work that we humans can't or don't want to do. The problem isn't money: the problem is, building a robot that does something we don't want to do.

Take, for example, robotic helicopters. Make:blog posted on a cheap, open source UAV that uses current technology cheaply. Cheap is not the problem. The problem is, this is kind of useless. What do you need a UAV for? Crop dusting? Delivery of messages?

At this point, it's not technology that's holding us back, it's practical applications. We need ideas for practical things that robots can do, more than we need people building robots.

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Posted by Ted Stevko at June 16, 2005 01:35 AM | TrackBack