Household robots made a big splash this year at CES2018. But there have been developments since then, too.
Given that we saw a Boston Dynamics robot open a door recently, it’s safe to say that we may not be far from a Bicentennial Man future (except, y’know, with no Robin Williams).
What I mean by this is that robots may become commonplace much sooner than we think. But, as we have covered, robots are still susceptible to ransomware and malware.
How does this relate to some of the most recent announcements in the robot world?
This is a list of predominately household robots that will soon affect our daily lives.
What These Nine (Mostly) Household Robots Mean for the Near Future:
1. Eliminate First World Problems with FoldiMate
Not many people I know enjoy doing laundry (or at least the folding part). Luckily for us, someone invented a robot to fold clothes. This originally debuted in 2017, but a new model appeared at CES2018.
The FoldiMate boasts the ability to fold a whole laundry load in just four minutes. However, you still have to clip on each individual item and the machine can’t sort clothes on its own. Still, this is a nifty device that could help many people.
It makes the everyday chore of laundry folding more accessible–but at a cost.
The company’s site claims the first model will cost $980 and the first shipment is targeted for late 2019.
FoldiMate also has some competition in the form Laundroid.
You can early pre-order (for 10% off). Last year’s model was ambitious enough to try and add a de-wrinkling and perfuming feature, but those have since been removed from the prototype.
As for vulnerability to malware, there isn’t much reporting on that so far. Perhaps once robots like this have officially launched, we will be able to read about benign hacked laundry robot antics.
2. Surgeon’s Assistant Robot from Auris Health
The Monarch Platform Robot assists surgeons with specific surgeries. Auris Health, a Frederic Moll company similar to Intuitive Surgical, devised it to help with biopsies. It received FDA approval for use in human lungs as operated by a doctor in March of 2018.
While some would raise the concern that this robot could replace surgeons, that outcome seems unlikely. After all, a surgeon still has to operate the robot for it to work. You can also read more on that subject below.
As for when it will become fully implemented, that is still up in the air.
3. The Honda Robot Quartet: Cute and Functional
Honda, a company known for cars, debuted a series of robot concepts in 2018. The main goal of these robots is not to disrupt any specific industry, but instead to augment everyday life.
We’ll cover these household robots starting from left to right in the image above.
The 3E-A18 has a digital face that can cry, smile, and snooze. Apparently, it’s also huggable. Honda intends for these robots to act as guides or assistants to disabled or ailing humans.
Serving a more functional purpose over interactive, the 3E-B18 model is a chair. Specifically, it serves as a mobility chair and works for outdoor or indoor use.
The 3E-C18 model might act as a “retail stall” for items or concessions.
The 3E-D18 model actually has off-road capabilities and a power bank. Honda intends for this model to help emergency and/or constructions crews.
As these are just concepts, it is difficult to say how they will change in development. But if Honda does not take proper malware precautions, added convenience could quickly turn into a troublesome proposition. For example, if your mobility assistant goes on the fritz, how do you get to help?
4. Aeolus: Smart Household Robots for Everyday Life
Even though the Disney movie Smart Home kind of turned me off of AI run houses, a robot butler still sounds pretty cool.
Enter Aeolus: a robot that can clean your house, act as an alarm for posture changes in case of a fall, and more. It features built-in cameras, Alexa and Google Home integration, and a 2.5 KG payload.
Aeolus also uses AI to power the robots and predict human behaviors. This could make it susceptible to malware attack.
Home-butler-type robots might pose the biggest threat in terms of data breaches. If the bot is tasked with replenishing household resources via Amazon or reading off emails from Google, a hacker could potentially hack the robot and steal the associated credentials.
I have nightmares of an attacker hijacking the robot butler’s camera feed and secretly recording me for months without my knowledge.
Given that Aeolus is still a concept, we won’t know what malware precautions the manufacturers have taken until more information is released.
5. LG Cloi: A Future Concept with a Poor CES Demo
The LG Cloi robot seems to offer functions similar to Aeolus and the Honda 3E-A18.
LG intends the robot to be a smart home essential addition, helping with climate control, cleaning, and so on. LG also developed the AI software ThinQ.
Of course, as true household robots should be, Cloi isn’t perfect. Despite the embarrassing Cloi CES showing, LG debuted three other robots: the shopping cart, the porter, and the serving robot.
— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) January 15, 2018
6. AI-powered Alibaba Robot Bests Humans in Reading
As with most of the robots on this list, the real power lies in the AI that helps them function.
Though Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is known for its robotic warehouse, they also helped develop a neural network. This network scored higher than humans on a Stanford reading and comprehension test.
Getting ahold of an AI intelligent enough to outwit a human could be bad news.
It would give hackers the upper hand when it comes to impersonating someone or fooling a security system. It would also make for the ultimate catfishing tool.
7. CIMON: Updated Microsoft Paperclip
Some of you reading this might remember the “helpful” Microsoft paperclip. The space robot CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) might seem similar in concept. However, CIMON is actually much better at executing helpful tasks.
Some refer to CIMON as a “floating brain”. The helpful bot comes from a collaboration between Airbus and IBM. The goal of creating CIMON was to assist astronauts with tasks on the International Space Station (ISS).
He can help them with tasks such as solving problems and provide diagnostic data. While it is training with an astronaut now, CIMON will be fully tested on the ISS between June and October 2018.
Gaining access to CIMON remotely might prove difficult for a hacker if it doesn’t use the Internet. Since there aren’t exactly fiber optic cables in space, the ISS uses primarily radio for communication.
This robot might not be malware proof, but its future location certainly safeguards it.
8. Flippy Makes for an Overly Productive Coworker
Remember when people joked about burger flippers getting replaced by robots? Well, meet Flippy, the burger flipping robot who was taken offline after one single day.
Miso Robotics developed Flippy to be the “world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant.” Flippy is meant to work alongside humans using a spatula-tipped arm. Obviously, Flippys could be repurposed into household robots.
Implemented for a trial run at CaliBurger in Pasadena, California, Flippy performed well. The robot performed so well that his human coworkers couldn’t assemble the burgers quickly enough. The decision was made to take Flippy offline for now.
Despite this initial hiccup, Livescience reported that 50 CaliBurger locations will feature a Flippy by the end of 2019.
Perhaps Miso Robotics can tweak the AI that powers Flippy during this time.
Flippy’s uses its thermal vision in order to tell when a burger needs turning or when it’s cooked. If a hacker could get into Flippy’s systems, they could potentially help serve undercooked meat. Or, depending on your preference, perfectly cooked meat.
Maybe I should stop giving people ideas with all of my postulating.
9. A Renewed Future for Sony’s AIBO Robot Dog
Some of you might remember the Sony AIBO robot dog created in 1999.
For seven years, new models came out until Sony discontinued the robot dog in 2006. But, after 12 years, Sony has decided to relaunch their robotic pets.
The new model features more joints and a more realistic dog face and tail. The dog also learns about their environment and their owners to develop relationships. It can even show “signs of body-temperature changes” according to the website.
But why would Sony resurrect an invention more than a decade discontinued? This video provides a clue, illuminating the sad world of AIBO ownership post-production.
I’m not sure if Sony’s reintroduction of their robot dog had anything to do with the above video. But if you don’t cry when you watch it, you may be a robot yourself.
Now, perhaps these dogs get a new “leash” on life.