Someday the robots will overthrow humanity. It will not, apparently, be anytime soon.
Kagome is Japan’s biggest vegetable juice company (think V8). Earlier this year, the company hired Maywa Denki, an art studio, to create a robot to promote consumption. They came up with Tomatan, an 18-pound robot that’s worn on the back like a backpack. Hanging over the head and shoulders, the tomato-headed robot pulls from an onboard stash of tomatoes to feed whoever is wearing it. Kagome employee Shigenori Suzuki wore Tomatan during the Tokyo Marathon’s 5k fun run, devouring his robot-delivered tomatoes the whole time. “Tomateos have lots of nutrition that combats fatigue,” Suzuki told reporters.
Opening this summer in Nagasaki, Japan: the Henn-na Hotel. Its staff: 10 robots, who will be programmed to do everything human hotel employees can do. Architects promise that the humanoid front desk robots can engage in realistic conversation with human guests, and will be assisted in running the hotel by other, less humanoid robots to clean rooms, carry luggage, and perform other tasks. Other high-tech technology at the hotel will include facial-recognition software on room doors instead of keys, and climate control via a radiation panel that detects body heat. (By the way, “Henn-na” translates to, roughly, “strange.”)
And finally, proof that robots aren’t all evil: they may someday kill all the lawyers… or at least replace law clerks. The British law blog Legal Features recently ran a report imagining that increasingly sophisticated and high-memory robots could perform the work of up to a dozen law clerks without getting tired, or wanting more pay, or any of those other things human works want. This in turn would drive down the cost of attorneys, and law firms would have less people on staff, and possibly only partners’ legal opinions would be of value to clients.
For more robot-related trivia, check out Uncle John’s Robotica.