Meet the Future: 10 Robots on the Rise

PHOTO: The Simon robot is an interactive machine that learns from human teachers.

Turn on your television this week and you can watch man face off against machine in a much-hyped three-day "Jeopardy!" challenge.

As impressive as it to watch IBM's super computer Watson hold its own against the game's all-time greats, that's just one high-profile example of ongoing efforts in the science community to advance the field of smart machines.

The robots of our sci-fi fantasies aren't here yet, but researchers are getting close.

Artificial intelligence and robotics researchers around the world are developing machines with applications for medicine, education, space exploration, the military and even sex.

Take a look at 10 of the most promising robots below.

Robo Therapy Could Help Stroke Patients

Welcome to robo rehab.

New research shows that robots could help stroke survivors improve arm and shoulder function by moving a patient's paralyzed arm in various pre-programmed directions.

Earlier this month, researchers from Japan's Kitasato University East Hospital in Kanagwa presented their findings at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference, according to the American Heart Association.

In the study, 40 patients who had recently suffered a stroke received standard therapy daily from an occupational therapist. Thirty-two patients also underwent robotic therapy, while the other participants spent the same amount of time on a self-training program. The patients receiving robotic care improved more than the patients in the self-training program, the study found.

Robot Priest Weds Couple

Last May in Japan, one couple's wedding got the high-tech treatment when a robot priest presided over the ceremony.

The I-Fairy robot, manufactured by Kokoro Co., became the first robot to lead a wedding ceremony.

The robot's voice and speech can be controlled by connecting it to a PC and, in addition to speaking, the I-Fairy can make gestures and dance, the company says.

But if you want to feature it at your next event, it will cost you: the I-Fairy's price tag is about $75,180.

The Education of Simon

Remember Rosie, the sweet robotic housekeeper, from the cartoon series "The Jetsons"?

She won't be bringing you breakfast yet, but researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology aren't too far away from a robot who could handle itself in a home.

In Georgia Tech's Socially Intelligent Machines Lab, researchers have developed "Simon" -- a machine with the very human ability to learn.

On her blog, Andrea Thomaz, one of the lab's lead researchers, wrote that she is working on "social learning machines," not so unlike Star Wars' R2D2 or CP30 (and, of course, Rosie).

"These machines are general purpose, they co-exist with people in a human culture and successfully interact in human environments," she wrote. "And importantly, they have the ability to learn about their environment and new challenges that arise by interacting with the people around them."

If you want to follow Simon's progress, you can check him out on his own blog. In addition to detailing his latest activities, he (not so humbly) describes himself.

In answering the question "What do I look like?" he writes: "Exceptionally cute, of course!"

Could a Robot Give Your Kids Detention?

Apples certainly won't work on this kind of teacher.

Researchers in Japan are working on a robot that could lead a classroom of children.

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