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Thursday, March 20, 2003

Robots to the Rescue?

Timely review from newsweek on how our future may be related to our iimminent intimated merger with the world of robots:

Elvis might very well be the king of the new age. It is one of 100 HelpMate robotic couriers, made by the San Diego-based Pyxis, for the nation's hospitals. It weighs 600 pounds, looks like a five foot tall cabinet on wheels and toils beneath the University of California, San Francisco, hospital, ferrying blood samples and medicine throughout the building. Once directed to a location, Elvis can chug down the hallway, wirelessly beckon the elevator and easily avoid other people and obstacles in its path.

Elvis is among an increasing number of robots being created to meet the needs of the health-care industry. Today there are five workers for every senior citizen. By 2020, the ratio will decrease to 3 to 1 (and in Japan, 2 to 1). Robotics firms are trying to stem the coming shortage of caregivers with products like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Wakamaru, due out early next year. It’s a three-foot-tall, yellow-faced robot with beady black eyes, designed to serve as a home caretaker for the elderly. It can talk, hug and send e-mail to the owner’s relatives if something seems wrong. But there will be a whopping $10,000 price tag.
Source: Newsweek

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