Meet the Future: 10 Robots on the Rise


"Saya," who was tested in a classroom of fifth and sixth graders in a real Tokyo classroom last year, can call roll, smile and scold, according to the Associated Press.

Her specialty is the ability to express six emotions -- surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness and sadness -- thanks to rubber skin manipulated by motors and wiring around the eyes and mouth.

Robot Waiters Deliver Food in China

Flirting with this waiter won't get you a round of drinks on the house.

In the Dalu Robot restaurant in China's Shandong province, tray-toting robots deliver food while circling the room on a conveyor belt-type system, the AP reported in December.

Each robot includes a motion sensor so that they stop as customers reach for plates of food.

More than a dozen of the robots, which cost about $6,000 each, act as receptionists, entertainers, servers and greeters. The restaurant's owner, Zhang Yongpei, told the AP that he hopes to boost his robot count to 30 and introduce robots that can serve customers at their tables and walk up and down the stairs.

Computerized Help Cleans Your Home

These guys don't have flashing eyes, they can't talk to you and won't serve you food, but they're already a welcome addition in homes around the world.

Since introducing the Roomba cleaning robot in 2002, iRobot has sold more than 5 million units, the company said.

And buoyed by the success of the original Roomba, iRobot has also rolled out a whole series of practical robots, including the Scooba floor-washing robot and the Verro pool-cleaning robot.

The robots, which cost in the $300-$600 range, automatically move around and clean up a designated space once turned on.

Mobile Robots Help Keep Soldiers Safe

iRobot isn't just developing robots for the home.

The company has partnered with Boeing to develop small tactical mobile robots that can help keep soldiers and public safety professionals safe.

The SUGVs are small, unmanned ground vehicles with cameras, audio equipment and other sensors that can be remote-controlled to find IED (improvised explosive devices) in a war zone or other threats in a public safety situation.

The rugged robots can climb stairs and roll into areas that are inaccessible or too dangerous for people.

A Giant Step for Robokind

When the Space Shuttle Discovery blasts off for the International Space Station later this month, the first space-bound humanoid robot will go along for the ride.

Robonaut 2 (or R2 as it's known to some) was built by NASA and General Motors at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA started the Robonaut project in 1996 and unveiled the first version in 2000. But Robonaut 2 will be the first to make it into space.

R2 could be used for simple, repetitive or dangerous tasks, NASA says on its site. For example, without changing the current design, the robot could change out an air filter. But the 300-pound machine could also work alongside humans in a GM plant on earth.

In the future, the robot could help humans explore the final frontier by scouting out other planets, such as Mars, or asteroids.

High-Tech Sex

Some robots are ready for even the most intimate tasks.

In January 2010, Douglas Hines, an electrical engineer and computer scientist who formerly worked on artificial intelligence at AT&T Bell Laboratories, unveiled his latest creation: Roxxxy, a "sex robot" from the company

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