Thanks for joining us here on a special edition of World Tech Update I'm Nick Barber and welcome to our robot round up, where we'll take a look at our favorite machine friends.

Robots that can help humans aren't science fiction anymore, but reality. Much of the research for human helping bots has come from Japan, where the country's aging population is skyrocketing. Where there isn't enough human help, it's possible that robots could step in. Panasonics hair washing robot has 16 electronically controlled fingers to wash and massage a users head. From start to finish the process takes about three minutes. One of the biggest challenges in designing the robot was getting it to apply just the right amount of pressure as it washes and massages. To get that right, sensors are installed that scan the head of users to get an idea of the shape. Once done, this information can be remembered for next time. Panasonic isn't known for robotics, but plans to build its research into a 1.2 billion dollar business by 2015.>>>

RIBA 2 from Japan's RIKEN  can lift patients from a bed into a wheelchair, a task that's done by human caretakers about 40 times day. The bot can carry an 80 kg or 175 pound person and its target price is about 78 thousand dollars. Sales are due to begin in 2015.>>>

One of the most famous robots that we've covered is Honda's Asimo. Now in the works for more than a decade Asimo has delivered tea, walked over uneven surfaces, learned to avoid obstacles in his path and even conducted an orchestra.

Recent developments allow Asimo to gather information about its surroundings and choose what it does next without any human commands.  This dexterous bot can recognize faces, voices, and can hold a conversation with multiple people simultaneously.

With Asimo’s expanded range of movement, it’s a step closer to becoming an autonomous household helper.>>>

While some researchers work on creating robots that can help humans, other scientists want to replace humans and give robots tasks that are otherwise mundane or too dangerous for their warm blooded counterparts. More than 3,000 robots from US based iRobot have been deployed in warzones to help defuse bombs and find IEDs before humans do.
In Japan Packbots were used to explore the radioactive parts of the Fukushima reactor building followed the earthquake and tsunami. At first workers initially braved high levels of radiation to prevent an even larger disaster, but their time on site was limited by the radiation levels. The robots had no such restrictions and the videos from them showed workers their first look inside the plant following the disaster.>>>>

NASA's Robonaut 2 is exploring the final frontier aboard the international space station. R2 is designed to perform tasks ranging from simple and repetitive to ones that are especially dangerous.The 300-pound robot has been in the works for about 11 years by NASA and General Motors.  R2 is capable of handling a wide range of dexterous human tools and interfaces as well as a wide range of sensing. With leg attachments it can even go into the vacuum of space.>>>

While some robots are useful, even helpful, some are made for entertainment
RoboThespian from Engineered Arts impersonates some of the most famous robots of all time like C3PO from Star Wars.

Staying with the Star Wars theme, these there Motorman robots performed a coordinated lightsaber dance.

Robot performances were taken to a whole new level by MIT when it debuted the first robot opera. Called Death and the Powers the show was the brainchild of MIT Media Lab professor Tod Machover. The main character of the show wishes to leave the physical world, but remain there digitally. He downloads himself into The System and continues to interact with the audience and other character through robots and a technique called disembodied performance.

Robots and music aren't a new thing though. Earlier we saw Asimo conduct an orchestra, well here's one from Honda that can play the violin.

And by far our most viewed robot and one of our most ever watched videos was the HRP-4C robot that sung a song with Yamaha's Vocaloid.

Well that's our show for this week. We hope you enjoyed our robot roundup. Mark your calendars. Next week we'll be at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to hear the latest news, see the newest devices and test out the best apps. Don't miss it. As we head out this week we'll leave you with more shots of our favorite bots. I'm Nick Barber and for all of us here at the IDG News Service thanks for watching and we'll see you next week from Spain!

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IDG News Service
Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Nick Barber

IDG News Service

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