Robotic Future: TechCruch Sessions showcase assistive technologies in California
Updated 20:10, 26-Apr-2019
The robotic age has struck fear in many, who worry about superior intelligence and job losses. But in California, researchers are showcasing their latest robots that are meant to help humans. CGTN's Mark Niu has more.
At TechCrunch's annual robotics and AI event, Boston Dynamics revealed its production version of SpotMini, which goes into production this summer.
The company also provided a peek of its newer robot called Handle, which is specially-designed for moving boxes and stacking pallets.
Beijing and Silicon Valley-headquartered CloudMinds showed its XR-1 robot, which has 34 joints, allowing it to perform precise movements.
The company is targeting hospitality and elderly care, with a goal of producing a family nanny robot by 2025.
BILL HUANG, FOUNDER & CEO CLOUDMINDS  "It is not intended for the robots to replace jobs. What we intend to say is as we age, there are more and more people who need to be taken care of but there are no people to help them."
MARK NIU BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA "At the event, you'll find some robots that you have to do a double take to make sure it's actually a robot. Meet Jenny from Tombot. Modeled after a 10-month old Labrador Retriever, petting it or talking to it results in a completely different reaction every time."
Tom Stevens came up with the idea for this emotional support robot when his own mother suffered from Alzheimer's and was forced to give up her dog.
TOM STEVENS, FOUNDER & CEO TOMBOT  "We were very concerned with the ethics of fooling the seniors. It was important for us to learn that the seniors actually know that they are robots, and they prefer that they are robots."
How robots and AI understand and react to human emotion is the focus of Rana el Kaliouby, the CEO of Affectiva.
Her company's technology is inside the brain of the hospitality robot Pepper, enabling it to read human facial expressions.
RANA EL KALIOUBY, CO-FOUNDER & CEO AFFECTIVA  "As we interact with one another, it's really important that I'm able to understand your emotional state and then adapt accordingly. And that's going to be true for any AI system or robot that interacts with humans on a day to day basis."
Adapting physical form is the objective of the startup Squishy Robotics.
Its robot can be dropped from more than 180 meters high then shapeshift and relay situational awareness info to first responders.
ALICE AGOGINO, CO-FOUNDER & CEO SQUISHY ROBOTICS  "It can drop from heights, and it can walk. And that shape is what enables it to do all these functions. It's got six cameras in them, 360 views as it's dropping and then it continues providing the life-saving information when it hits the ground. It also has sensors in it."
Life-altering robotic technology is what Manmeet Maggu created with his startup Trexo, which helped his own nephew with cerebral palsy take his very first steps.
MANMEET MAGGU, CEO TREXO ROBOTICS "The robotic actuators can actually adjust how much force they provide to help the child with the assistance needed for them to take their steps."
It costs $30,000 or can be leased for $1,000 a month. Trexo hopes to convince insurance companies from an economic standpoint that walking prevents complicated and expensive surgeries for children down the road. Mark Niu, CGTN, Berkeley, California.