People are often surprised to learn that many of the most capable and high-tech robots are kept in cages away from humans. This isn’t because the machines are out to get us. Many machines are dangerous because they simply lack self-awareness and the ability to understand their surroundings.
This is why, up until recently, robots haven’t been able to work side-by-side with people in industrial settings. Baxter by Rethink Robotics, however, is an example of a machine that can work with people. The robot has eyes on a screen to show where the machine is “looking” to signal its next task.
Now, a team of Disney researchers are building a cute and agile robot named Jimmy to safely (and adorably) interact with people.
The robot has rounded balls for hands and can do things like gently touch a child’s face, pick up a stuffed animal, crack an egg, play patty-cake, and clap—and Jimmy looks friendly while doing so.
The current version of the robot does not move autonomously and relies on a person remotely controlling its movements (like a puppeteer that stands behind the scenes). In the future, however, the technology may be more autonomous.
Here’s a more in depth look at Jimmy in action:
We’ll have to stay tuned to see where the technology goes and how Disney plans to put Jimmy to work. But for now, it’s an exciting beginning.