At the leading edge of technology, robots are poised to change the way we do business and conduct our daily lives. The New York Times video series, called Robotica, examining how robots are poised to change the way we do business and conduct our daily lives. Top roboticists, researchers and artists bring you into their labs to explore innovations and ask the tough questions about where robots are going.
In its last episode series examined a robotic dog’s mortality with the Aibo, introduced by Sony in 1999. For thousands of people Sony’s Aibo robotic dog was the closest thing to a real canine companion. The beaglelike robots could move around, bark and perform simple tricks. Sony sold 150,000 units through 2006; the fifth and final generation was said to be able to express 60 emotional states.
So when the Japanese company stopped servicing the robots last year, eight years after it ended production, owners faced a wrenching prospect: that their aging “pets” would break down for good. They scrambled to save the robot-dogs that had become part of their families.
Or consider the story of Les Baugh, who lost his arms as a teenager. Engineers at Johns Hopkins are trying to give them back, but better. Mr. Baugh is testing a robotic prosthetic that he can control with his mind.
Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab have developed a next-generation prosthetic: a robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl up to 45 pounds and is controlled with a person’s mind just like a regular arm.
Researchers think the arm could help people like Les Baugh. Now 59, Mr. Baugh recently underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins to remap the remaining nerves from his missing arms, allowing brain signals to be sent to the prosthetic.
Since 2006, the lab has been awarded $120 million from a program run by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help wounded warriors. Now the lab is starting to collaborate with industry partners to explore commercial opportunities.
All episodes availabe at http://www.nytimes.com/video/robotica