SAN FRANCISCO: 3D PRINTED, OPEN SOURCE ROBOTS that are going to bridge the gap between technology and humanity are on their way, according to Intel, which talked about its Twenty-first Century Robot initiative that will "bring science fact to science fiction".
It might sound like a sci-fi film gone terrifyingly wrong, but that's what Intel's futurist Brian David Johnson told attendees at a media briefing at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.
"We've been doing this thing called science fiction prototyping... something that you haven't known about, using science fiction inside of Intel," said Johnson.
"One of the things we started thinking about, around ten years ago, was - if we can turn anything into a computer, what if we come up with a new brand new robot?"
What seemed a little arbitrary at first was explained further by Johnson, who described in detail how these robots will come to fruition.
"Using 3D printing, using open source hardware and software... anyone can build a robot that is completely open source, where the design files are free and the AI is open and everyone and anyone can start writing apps for the robot."
"The idea is that there is no line between technology and humanity: we and you - our technology with our humanity - [robots] that share our sense of culture, morals, with even our dreams of the future," Johnson fantasised.
"So as we begin to make these robots and design and build them, we begin to see these robots as extension of ourselves and allow them to go off and interact with other people, [and] with other robots."
Intel's somewhat crazy sounding Twenty-first Century Robot project aims to let anyone create robots, and change them and share them in online communities, enabling them to be 3D printed with varying designs.
Johnson said that Intel started collaborating with researchers all over the world around 10 years ago as part of the research project, thinking about what it would be like for people to interact with robots.
"Jimmy was our first example, a real robot with real AI," Johnson said, showing off a red robot design on a projected slide.
"We have been prototyping him with the idea of 'what if these robots were completely open source, if they were completely social - a smartphone equivalent of a robot?'"
Intel has also created another type of robot named Paul, which can talk to Jimmy and interact with it.
Intel will launch its Twenty-first Century Robot project next week at the Maker Faire in New York. From that point, you'll be able to download material online that gives you steps to build robots like Jimmy, Johnson revealed.
"[Jimmy's] specs are online so you can build your own and 3D print it via open source," said Johnson, as he excitedly promised a series of future robot maker fairs, where Intel will bring people together and give them robot-building kits, enabling them to eventually share their designs with other people.
"Imagine a future with robots - design them, print them, program them and share them," Johnson concluded.
Intel didn't say what these robots will do, but we can already see it now; this is the start of the end of the world. µ
Or so says the rumour mill ...
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