Danger Will Robinson! Danger
Robot, Lost in Space, 1968.
When I first heard Robot bark that out I was all smiles – but knew it was pure science fiction. Right? But I wanted to be Will Robinson and have my own Robot!
“Someday we will all have one”, I would confidently tell anyone who would listen.
That someday seemed generations away, certainly not in my lifetime. But unlike the rising value of Treasury notes, the creep of glaciers, or the portfolio of Berkshire-Hathaway, technology does not advance at a predictably steady pace.
Technology grows exponentially, and that is precisely why these startling advances take us by surprise. It seems only yesterday that even the droids of Star Wars were nothing but SciFi. Today “rollers” like R2D2 are commonplace, and C3PO is a reality in component form, if not completely ready to plug and play.
In fact, the development of human assist and independent robotic systems have exploded since 1988. According to investment in research, development and production of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the robotics has quadrupled worldwide in the past 25 years, with the majority of that growth in the past 10 years.
While the only limit to the scope and variety of these mechanized assistants is the creativity and imagination of human engineers, we can describe them in three categories. Rollers, walkers, and fliers are the mainstream; however there are some experimental directions that the “evolutionary” process is exploring.
As far back as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis we imagined androids as being humanlike in there mechanics and mobility, yet remaining completely mechanical in appearance. Today’s engineers and designers are thinking far outside of the Robby the Robot box. And yet, these technological advances had to take a logical evolutionary progression, perhaps only because of our human frame of reference. You have to walk before you run, crawl before you walk, creep before you crawl.
And in the case of Robot, roll before you creep. So that is where I will begin, right where the engineering budgets began, with the low hanging fruit. With the rollers.
About Douglas Black
Douglas Black is a photojournalist and
green technologies analyst out of Chicago,
and is currently Managing Producer for
Earlier Douglas promoted greentech in Detroit as
Senior Marketing Strategist and Architect.
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