Robot Nanny - The Fact, The Fiction

Robot nannies? Philip K. Dick wrote about a robot named Nanny in a 1952 short story with the same name. Here's a bot built for babysitting:

Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom. Her surface had been sprayed with a dull green enamel, which had become chipped and gouged through wear. There was not much visible in addition to the eye stalks. The treads could not be seen. On each side of the hull was the outline of a door. From these the magnetic grapples came, when they were needed. The front of the hull came to a point, and there the metal was reinforced. The extra plates welded both fore and aft made her look almost like a weapon of war...
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's Nanny robot)

Yujin Robotics of Korea, among other companies, will be introducing nanny robots this fall. One such product, the iRobi, is described as an internet-based family robot. iRobi can take and edit photos, combine nursery rhymes with robot dances, provide fairy tale-based tutoring and even accept your custom programming.

(iRobi robot nanny from Yujin Robotics)

Shin Kyung-chul, CEO of Yujin Robotics, says

"We're in the early stages of the robot business. And for now, robots are just recognized as giving fun and curiosity. But I'm sure that the robot business will emerge as a major industrial trend in a few years, rendering substantial help to our daily lives."
(From Enablers of a life revolution)

It appears that essentially the same robot is being tested under the name "Jupiter." Here's a look at this version.

(Jupiter robot nanny from Yujin Robotics)

Jupiter has been used as a prototype since October of 2005 and has been tested in private homes in Korea. Yujin Robotics selected Northstar, an infrared LED technology from Evolution Robotics, as the means for robots to know their own location in real time. Northstar uses triangulation to determine position, based on spots of IR light projected onto visible surfaces. Each spot has a unique signature, providing robots with unambiguous positioning.

Read more about robot nannies at AVING and Robot Gossip. Find out about robotic English teachers as well; don't forget about The Veldt, Ray Bradbury's original virtual reality childcare environment.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/11/2006)

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