彭蒙惠英语:20110115 MP3在线课程 Robots at Work

时间 : 2013-11-13 06:32来源 : VOA官网 收听下载次数 :
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January 15

Discovering new uses

The declining prices for telepresence robots will encourage experimentation among companies and entrepreneurs, who will find new uses for them, say analysts. QB and similar robots could eventually be used to let consumers preview houses or hotels from afar, to allow disabled people to virtually visit tourist destinations, or to help fashion experts, from the comfort of their homes,give sartorial consultations to consumers at clothing stores across the country. Already, QB is undergoing testing by NASA and Wolfram Research founder Stephen Wolfram.

For now, Anybots is pitching the QB to companies with remote workers. Currently executives of those companies often meet with remote workers via video or teleconferences, or by having them fly in to the main office. But Blackwell argues that QB is a better solution because managers don't have to coordinate schedules so everyone is in the same place at the same time. Also, it allows users to wander around and have the more informal conversations they might have if they were actually in the office.

Not quite perfect ... yet

In the near term at least, the range of applications for QB and similar rivals will be limited by their lack of arms to manipulate things in their environments. Arms are a challenge because they make the robots more expensive, more difficult to use and less stable, analysts say.

QB has some other shortcomings as well. Users can't tilt its head up or down, so it can be difficult to see something that's not at the robot's eye level. Its "neck" can be raised or lowered to a different height, but that can't be done remotely by the operator. And QB has only one eye-level camera and can't move its head side to side, so its peripheral vision is narrow.

Those limitations haven't dimmed the excitement of tester Wolfram. Slated to give a talk at an event, Wolfram had a QB stand in for him.

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