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The sad, sad state of the modern robot

Posted by Jesse Singal  January 4, 2011 11:19 AM

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A Bedford company is introducing the Scooba 230, a robot that can clean bathrooms — it's a cousin of the Roomba (and made by the same company), but smaller and therefore able to get at tighter spots. (It only does floors, though, leaving the less pleasant stuff to humans.)

iRobot Scooba 230 Floor Washing Robot_1294159483752.pngWhile the Scooba 230 may be a useful addition to certain households, it's also a depressing reflection of just how far from where we need to be, robotics-wise. It's 2011, after all, and we're still decades from the sorts of robots we have been promised by science fiction, whether they be of the sass-talking or psychotic killing varieties.

It turns out that it's very hard to get robots to act and move like humans, but easy to give them simple instructions based on navigation and physics. So, in a somewhat strange twist the sci-fi authors of the past couldn't have anticipated, we've relegated robots to cleaning floors and bombing distant countries — but not much in between.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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