OnQ Blog

The Robots Are Coming: Roundup

Mar 30, 2012

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

If the thought of robots working side-by-side with humans to clean our homes and hospitalsand land stealth jet airplanesfrightens you, stop reading right now. It’s been a busy month for robot-related news.

iRobot recently announced a new generation of floor-cleaning robots for your house. The lightweight, disc-shaped Scooba 390 will scrub, wash and squeegee your floors with 30% longer battery life than its predecessors for around 850 square feet per charge, iRobot says. CNET has all the details of the $500 device.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that iRobot is also building a commercial-grade fleet of robotic cleaners for hospitals. They’ll tidy up rooms and corridors, using the same technology that allows Scooba to vaccum floors. 

And iRobot is not alone, the WSJ says. Aethon also creates hospital robots that can “haul food trays, linens, trash, medical records, medications and other items from one area of the facility to another.” They use some of the same technology found in smartphones, including GPS and InfraRed, as well as fancier sensors such as sonar and laser. Less than 1,000 are already deployed in health care facilities across the U.S.

If cleaning isn’t exciting enough for you, then global security firm Northrop Grumman has you covered. CNET reports that Northrop is working with MIT researchers to enhance their unmanned X-47B robot stealth plane so it can respond to human hand signals.

The goal is for aircraft carrier crews to use the same take-off and landing hand gestures for human or robot planes. So far, the robots can decipher 24 gestures with 76% percent accuracy. 

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