New robots seem to arrive nearly every month, but it always seems like there's something missing. From the new startup crowdfunded "Jibo" that bends and twists like a Siri-voiced, Wi-Fi-networked, robo-Smurf, to Japan's "Pepper" that supposedly reads human emotions, according to its makers, to Honda's running, jumping, signing "Asimo," each one is good at performing a few simple tasks.
But a multi-function household robot that cooks, cleans, does the laundry, takes phone calls and waters the plants (anyone remember the cartoon Jetsons' Rosie?) is still out of reach, experts say.
"It's not like there will be nothing and then in 20 years there will be a Rosie or a HERB in the home," says Siddhartha Srinivasa, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University who is developing the Home Exploring Robotic Butler (HERB).
"The technologies we are creating with HERB will be in homes, offices and workplaces a long time before you have a robot like Rosie," he said. "You will have smarter homes, appliances and cars that will set the groundwork for a general purpose robot. It will be a gradual transition and will be taking steps along the way."