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Robot Uprising Update: The Future is 'Friendly' Robots... Until They Attach Lasers!

It's been over two years since I last wrote about the inevitable machine uprising and, while Boston Dynamics continues to claim they're not inadvertently trigging the first attack by pushing their robots around with hockey sticks, the future is leaning toward 'friendly' service robots (or at least the robots want you to think they're friendly so you'll casually pass them your laser gun to 'look after').

Honda's Asimo Robot is no more.
Honda's Asimo is no more.
Possibly the most famous 'friendly' robot, Honda's Asimo, is unfortunately no more. Honda shelved further research into human-like, bipedal robots in 2017, though will be using some of their robot technology in things like making it possible for your motorcycle to self balance and follow you around like a puppy dog.

Soft Bank's Pepper Robot Assistant.
Soft Bank's Pepper
Robot Assistant.
Japanese Robot manufacturer, Soft Bank (who as I understand it bought Boston Dynamics and recently sold  an 80% stake to Hyundai), is going from strength to strength with its 'friendly' robot, Pepper. This robot has gone into mass production and is relatively affordable as a personal companion, greeter, or educator, that comes with its own iPad. 

While Pepper's lack of legs means it can still be defeated by a set of stairs (like your evil, scheming, robot vacuum), it still has laser sensors built in, just waiting to be turned up to eleven (I'm guessing that's the melt your face off setting).

Boston Dynamic's Robot Dog Spot can dance.
Boston Dynamic's Robot
Dog Spot can dance.
Boston Dynamic's robot dog, Spot, has also gone into commercial production but, just because it can dance doesn't mean it's friendly. 

When you purchase a Spot robot it comes with a bunch of warning documentation letting you know if you get in its way it'll rip your legs off (probably). That is, it's considered to be more akin to industrial machinery than an alternative to a real pet dog for your young kids.

While Asimo may be no more, UBTech Robotics have created their own similarly styled robot called 'Walker', who is promoted as a domestic assistant. 

At less than a metre and a half tall, it can work safely with humans (that's what the robots want you to think), and probably won't crush your kid if it accidentally fell over on them... because that's never going to happen since it has balance correction capabilities (though I've seen no evidence of one being properly assaulted with hockey sticks by those dummies at Boston Dynamics).

UBTech's Walker Personal Assistant.
UBTech's Walker Personal Assistant contemplating the location
of this family's laser gun cabinet.

It's no coincidence that UBTech's tagline is Bringing a Robot into every home and business, and they also make other service robots that specialize in cleaning (currently safely disinfecting away COVID19 but probably blood stains too once the overrides kick in on their friendly 'Walker' Terminators).

Surena IV is the one on the left with the Gort robot (right) vibes as seen in The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Surena IV is the one on the left with the
Gort robot (right) vibes as seen in
The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The American Society of Robotics has recognized the Iranian Research Humanoid robot, Surena IV, as the most advanced machine of its kind to date.

While it's not yet clear if this robot is intended to be a 'friendly' robot its capabilities are very similar to UBTech's, Walker. Concerningly this robot, in my opinion, is giving off 'Gort' vibes, the killer robot with laser eyes from the 1951 movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. I'd keep those Boston Dynamics guys and their hockey sticks well away from it!

This article was inspired by the two videos below from the YouTube Channels Curious Droid and Pro Robots. You can see all the robots mentioned (and more) in both videos.

It should be noted that I'm not a robot technophobe and all my posts on the Robot Uprising are purely tongue in cheek. Having said that I do urge any laser gun owners to store them responsibly, locked away from curious robots for everybody's safety.



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