Meet the Future: 10 Robots on the Rise

IBM's Watson gives one look at smart machines, here are a few more.

ByABC News
February 15, 2011, 11:29 AM

Feb. 16, 2011— -- 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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.

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.