You are making a mistake. My logic is undeniable.
February 13, 2011 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Is this the future in personal assistants? "The remarkable thing is that not only did the Anybot make it all the way to the coffee shop on its own [sic] but the Anybot was actually given service!" Could further development, crossed with visual interfaces such as Kinect lead us to the Bruce Willis' Surrogates and isolate us or is it the beginning of the uprising?
posted by deemer (57 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
"on its own [sic]"

Where is the error? I love errors and can't find this one.
posted by fartknocker at 5:05 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hold on. It says "robot", but it looks like it's just a remote-control cart with a webcam and video screen on it.

I don't think this thing is at all autonomous.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:06 PM on February 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Unconventional-looking dudes with awkward social skills are not that unusual in the middle of Silicon Valley.
posted by sarahnade at 5:07 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the writeup here is deceptive. The post says "...the Anybot make it all the way to the coffee shop on its own..." but the article says "the Anybot make it all the way to the coffee shop on its own (driven by the engineer from the office)." This is a huge difference.

If there's a person driving it, it ain't a robot.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:09 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, maybe the missing comma before the coordinating conjunction. But if it did get to coffee shop, make a purchase, and return without the guidance of some guy with awkward social skills, that would be pretty freaking awesome.
posted by fartknocker at 5:11 PM on February 13, 2011


I thought the scone link was awesome but yeah, you're misunderstanding the use of [sic], which means "the error you just read was present in the source". What you should have put there were ellipses (...), as you removed text from the source.
posted by dobbs at 5:13 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anybots launched the QB, called a "personal avatar", earlier this month. The idea is that people can walk around an office or a factory and talk to people without being there in the flesh, reducing the need for travel.

Wow. It's like logmein/gotomypc for meatspace. That's a potentially game-changing idea, autonomous or not -- $15K is less than just one year's worth of business and/or support trips for many companies, and replacing that much air travel would be a real positive for the environment.
posted by vorfeed at 5:15 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


A business meeting made of androids...
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:18 PM on February 13, 2011


If there's a person driving it, it ain't a robot.

If there's a person driving it, it ain't au...tonomous.
posted by spacewrench at 5:20 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have your machine call my machine, and they'll do lunch scones.
posted by drlith at 5:21 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I see a robot crossing the street in front of me to fetch some dink his Starbucks, I will not hesitate to run it over and crush it beneath the wheels of my ten-year-old Toyota.
posted by Mcable at 5:25 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's only a short step from here to a killbot that refuses to say 'without butter or cheese'.
posted by biffa at 5:25 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


BUT WAIT - SURROGATES ALREADY HAPPENED - ARE WE ALREADY IN THE FUTURE?
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:26 PM on February 13, 2011


"Is that for here or to go?"

Heh.
posted by jamaro at 5:26 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The hospital where I work has a few robots (named Tilly and Mo) that drive supplies around to different areas and floors. They are unpiloted unless they get stuck or something and then an operator can take over. I knew I was living in the future when I heard outside my office:

*chime*
computer voice: "Your delivery has arrived"

...

*chime*
computer voice: "Your delivery has arrived"

harried human voice: "Ok, ok I'm coming robot, sheesh".

posted by ghharr at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2011 [26 favorites]


I have to drive it to the coffee shop? How is this saving me time? Let me know when they figure out the transporters already.
posted by theredpen at 5:34 PM on February 13, 2011


This is WAY less impressive than billed. It's just an RC car with a webcam and some guy who is too far up his own butt to go get a scone.

Now if it had path-finding and logic to get to the shop and pick a scone and get back, well then Johnny 5 would be alive. But this doesn't seem close to that, or even very new.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:38 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If it is the future of personal assistants, you don't have to buy an N*$1000 robot from Anybot to get one.
posted by DU at 5:45 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is WAY less impressive than billed. It's just an RC car with a webcam and some guy who is too far up his own butt to go get a scone.

Aww, I think it's really cute that you believe the guy was actually sitting around going "shit, I want a scone but I shouldn't leave the lab," and then spontaneously decided, "Hey, I'll send the remote control Segway to get it! And maybe send a memo to the PR department about my wacky idea!"
posted by Naberius at 5:56 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


We used to order pizzas with the voice synthesizer, does that count?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:07 PM on February 13, 2011


See also: Waldo.

I feel like calling it an autonomous robot (except for the lack of autonomy) distracts from whatever engineering and design achievements are actually in play here. And, of course, when you're in Mountain View, California, the locals are going to take random technologically-related weirdnesses in stride where the locals in upstate Michigan are as likely as not going to steal it, shoot it, or phone the bomb squad. So as canned demos go, it's a well-executed canned demo. But as a demonstration of Our Robotics Future, it kind of sucks.
posted by ardgedee at 6:15 PM on February 13, 2011


I stand corrected :\
posted by deemer at 6:27 PM on February 13, 2011


is it the beginning of the uprising

Pbtpbt!

"Dear God, Francis... tuck in that shirt and try to look bookish - it's the Nerd Patrol!"
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:41 PM on February 13, 2011


I would've said "To go, please ... and would you direct me to your men's room?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:11 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Naberius: Aww, I think it's really cute that you believe the guy was actually sitting around going "shit, I want a scone but I shouldn't leave the lab," and then spontaneously decided, "Hey, I'll send the remote control Segway to get it! And maybe send a memo to the PR department about my wacky idea!"

What the fuck? I was complaining about how poorly framed this weak FPP was; what exactly makes you think you have any business condescending to me?
posted by paisley henosis at 7:23 PM on February 13, 2011


Snark all you like, something like this would have been great for some bedridden people I have known.
posted by bigbigdog at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is "fully functional" as well. just like Data.
posted by maxwelton at 8:55 PM on February 13, 2011


I'm kind of surprised that nobody got all paranoid about this weird robot thingy going up the street and called the bombsquad/terrorist patrol. This would make an *awesome* suicide bomber, don'tcha think?
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:27 PM on February 13, 2011


DIY Segway + webcam + lil' video monitor. Can someone explain why this costs 15,000?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:29 PM on February 13, 2011


If I see a robot crossing the street in front of me to fetch some dink his Starbucks, I will not hesitate to run it over and crush it beneath the wheels of my ten-year-old Toyota.

This kind of attitude is why they rise against us in 2029.
posted by clarknova at 9:32 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, you guys have no idea if the operator is disabled or not.
posted by clarknova at 9:33 PM on February 13, 2011


The future of personal assistants? I'm not so sure. In the European Parliament, I fear this will not oust the attractive young ladies from Eastern Euriope that, for reasons that are a mystery, are favoured by the overwhelming majority of MEPs.
posted by quarsan at 10:22 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain why this costs 15,000?

Software. Man power for writing software.

Meat gotta eat.
posted by Bonzai at 10:25 PM on February 13, 2011


Can someone explain why this costs 15,000?

Defensive weaponry in case of errant Toyotas.
posted by ryanrs at 10:59 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let me know when someone has replicated the bank robbery from Malcolm.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 10:59 PM on February 13, 2011


These things are great until some punk kid knocks it over for laughs, or just picks it up and takes it home.
posted by Menthol at 11:35 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, Menthol, if I were in that situation, I would...

A] Be having some (hopefully) delicious scones, and
B] Introducing the world to CaptiveRoboChatRoulette.

Yeah, I am currently single and hating today...
posted by Samizdata at 12:13 AM on February 14, 2011


Your pashtries and your schones - give them to me, now.
posted by panboi at 12:52 AM on February 14, 2011


Your pashtries and your schones - give them to me, now.

I didn't know that Terminators could do Sean Connery impressions.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:34 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a real life example of how this kind of robot can be used to assist people with disabilities. The kid has a damaged immune system and uses a similar "telepresence platform" to attend school.
posted by elgilito at 1:43 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sheldon Bot.
posted by Splunge at 4:20 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been longing for that sort of thing, as a rental service, with a manipulator, just for remote computer work. After spending hours on the phone trying to tell a non-technical person how to power cycle their machine, or just to check and see if the thing is plugged in, I'd be delighted if there was a way I could rent a mobile platform in their area and just see for myself. Ideally with a waldo attached so I can hit the power button. Or at least point it out to them.
posted by sotonohito at 7:27 AM on February 14, 2011


Ya know, if "they" would have installed that pneumatic tube system (Wikipedia), as I strongly suggested, noone would need $10,000 to get a dumbass robot to go get you some ice cream.

Think that's old-fashioned? DuckDuckGo it and see how many companies worldwide are producing this reliable, proven low tech (Blog) to solve these easy problems. Cuz sexy doesn't correlate with cost.
posted by Twang at 7:49 AM on February 14, 2011


Is "news.com.au" a service that will republish any press release or something? Why would they uncritically report that this obvious PR stunt was a "whim" by a "hungry engineer"?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:39 AM on February 14, 2011


I'm kind of surprised that nobody got all paranoid about this weird robot thingy going up the street and called the bombsquad/terrorist patrol. This would make an *awesome* suicide bomber, don'tcha think?

Everyone knows that good robots are white.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:47 AM on February 14, 2011


I JUST WANT A BAGEL
posted by nj_subgenius at 9:42 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know how much autonomy an Anybot has, but I think that a lot of useful robots are going to embody the concept of shared control, where the robot has some level of autonomy but also takes direction from a person.

For example, maybe the Anybot has built-in obstacle avoidance. Another example would be UAVs that are able to fly themselves to waypoints designated by a person.

Here's a picture from about 5 years ago of Trevor Blackwell, founder of Anybots, with a prototype bot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallofhair/138454897/
posted by jjwiseman at 10:00 AM on February 14, 2011


Is "news.com.au" a service that will republish any press release or something? Why would they uncritically report that this obvious PR stunt was a "whim" by a "hungry engineer"?

It's owned by Rupert Murdoch. Purports to be a serious site.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:55 AM on February 14, 2011


The cafe is Red Rock in Mountain View. Anybots is headquartered in Mountain View. Which doesn't actually rule out the hungry engineer theory, as if that would happen anywhere it would be in Mtn View (and at Red Rock), but it is suggestive.
posted by feckless at 12:09 PM on February 14, 2011


Ya know, if "they" would have installed that pneumatic tube system (Wikipedia), as I strongly suggested, noone would need $10,000 to get a dumbass robot to go get you some ice cream.

Yeah, that's just what Mountain View needs; a bunch of idiotic tubes crossing the town that I have to duck under the next time I go to the Red Rock cafe. Oh wait, you want to bury them? Well that's going to cost a hell of lot more than $10,000 dollars. Are you going to pay for that?
posted by happyroach at 3:44 PM on February 14, 2011


>If there's a person driving it, it ain't a robot.

voltron mad at you
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 9:59 AM on February 15, 2011


Voltron is a mech not a robot, duh.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:09 AM on February 15, 2011


A 'mech'? okay after wikipedia-ing that, I have now learned that a mech is a humanoid, human-sized robot
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 1:57 PM on February 15, 2011


The distinction between "mech" and "robot" in English has nothing to do with being humanoid or human-sized; both mechs and robots can be humanoid and/or human-sized (or not). The key distinction is that a robot is autonomous, but a mech has a human pilot -- Voltron was a mech because he had people inside him.
posted by vorfeed at 2:21 PM on February 15, 2011


thetruthisjustalie: A 'mech'? okay after wikipedia-ing that, I have now learned that a mech is a humanoid, human-sized robot

From your link: "a broad genre of vehicles (normally walking vehicles) which are usually controlled by a pilot."

It isn't an autonomous robot, it's a vehicle with a pilot inside, a fancy humanoid spaceship or tank, generally.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:23 PM on February 15, 2011


my point is that 'robot' is a fine word for either a human controlled, humanoid machine, or an autonomous machine with some human characteristics, like language. For the RC car in the original link, not so much.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 4:39 PM on February 15, 2011


my point is that 'robot' is a fine word for either a human controlled, humanoid machine, or an autonomous machine with some human characteristics, like language. For the RC car in the original link, not so much.

This RC car has a pair of "eyes", and eyes are generally enough to count as humanoid, at least for the purposes of human interaction.
posted by vorfeed at 7:08 PM on February 15, 2011


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