Infatuation With Robots On The Rise!

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LG Hom-BotIn 2007, David Levy an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, speculated that we would be marrying robots by 2050, and that Massachusetts would be the first state to allow it.

While you may smirk in disbelief at this prediction, the consumer market’s growing infatuation for their digital lifestyle tools, suggests that such a man-machine relationship is not all that far-fetched. In 2009, a Japanese man already married a video game character.

On May 13, 2008, Honda’s stair-stepping Asimo robot lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, performing “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” with cellist Yo-Yo Ma (top image). Bravo, robot man! MORE!!!!

True Companion Founder Douglas Hines certainly agrees that robots will be part of your future. His New Jersey company claims it has developed the world’s first robot that’s designed to engage the owner with conversation rather than lifelike movement.

At the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas at the 2010 CES, his negligee-clad robot said “I love holding hands with you” when it sensed Hines touching its hand. Given the venue, we don’t need to tell you about the other talents of the bot, appropriately named Roxxxy.

Industrial Robots

In 2005, South Korea’s Minister of Science and Technology Oh Myung predicted the Asian tiger would boast the world’s third largest robotics industry by 2013, exporting some $20 billion worth of products, or 15% of the global robotics market.

That suggests a worldwide robotics industry of roughly $135 billion in two years. On Sept. 14, 2010 the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), based in Frankfurt, Germany estimated that the total value of “professional service” robots, which includes domestic bots, sold through the end of 2009 was $13.2 billion. The industrial robot market, which it dubs “robot systems,” was valued at $12 billion through 2009.

But no matter how you robo-slice it, robotics are destined for a spectacular future. So much so that the BBC reported in 2006 that robots could one day “demand workers rights.”

That may explain why such formidable players as Honda and Toyota are pursuing robotics. In 2004, Toyota demonstrated a trumpet-playing robot. The automaker showed a robot running at 7km/hr in 2009. And a robotic tour guide, dubbed Robina, greets visitors at Toyota headquarters.

Robots of every imaginable function and size have been introduced, from Citizen’s Eco-Be, a miniature, two-wheeled robot that’s driven by a Citizen watch motor, to RI-MAN humanoid, developed by Riken, a Japan-supported research institute, which has a design goal of being able to carry at least 154 pounds (70kg) by 2011.

Japan is focusing its robotic efforts on helping its aging population, which explains that 154-pound weight target. This is key given that Japan, along with Italy, shares the distinction of having the world’s oldest population.

At the January 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), both LG and Samsung introduced their latest generation of vacuum-cleaning robots. The LG Hom-Bot, pictured above, features “dual eye-mapping” and scheduled cleaning, and bears more than a passing resemblance to an amoeba. The robotic home invasion has begun.

But activity is not limited to Korea and Japan. All around the world, the pace of development is picking up fast. America’s best-known robot manufacturer, iRobot, has launched a fourth-generation vacuum robot, the iRobot Roomba 700 series (PDF). RobotAdvice.com described the previous generation as “finally a robotic vacuum that you can rely on.”

If you’re curious about robots, check out Mashable’s Top 10 Robot Videos on YouTube. You may become smitten with what you see. We won’t tell anyone.