4.1 Million Robots in Homes by 2007

“From the BBC’s technology News pages… Robots are set to become increasingly familiar companions in homes by 2007, says a United Nations survey. Seven times more robots will helping us out with the cleaning, security and entertainment in three years’ time, as their price falls and they get smarter.

It is not quite the humanoid vision of blockbuster film I, Robot as many of them will be vacuum bots. Two-thirds of the 607,000 domestic robots in use were bought in 2003, says the UN’s annual World Robotics report.

By the end of 2007, 4.1 million robots will be doing jobs in homes, says the report by the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the International Federation of Robotics.

As well as the vacuuming, they will take over tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning pools, and washing windows.

Robots like Irobi, unveiled this week by Korean company Yujin Robotics, will be able to multiple tasks.

It is a net-based, all-in-one family robot complete with educational functions, home security, diary, entertainment, and message delivery capability.

Fun and games

Robots will also be keeping humans company and entertaining them much more, becoming a part of home life.

By 2007, it is projected that there will be almost 2.5 million entertainment and “leisure” robots in homes, compared to about 137,000 currently.

Sony saw global sales of their high-end robots, the all-dancing, voice-recognising, dog-like Aibos, climb this year.

About 692,000 of them have found homes since its release in 1999. Aibo enthusiasts even meet up to play Aibo football and hold dance contests.

Aside from playing football and jigging in the home, robots are increasingly being used to carry out more hazardous or specialists jobs.

Robots involved in more serious tasks, like scientific and medical research, defence and surveillance, as well as mine-clearing, will also enjoy a boom in popularity, says the report.

Researchers around the world are developing robots for multiple uses, and many are making them a lot smarter and autonomous by developing AI systems (Artificial Intelligence).

The survey also confirmed that the number of robots in industry has grown globally, with record orders in 2004.

Robot investment in the UK grew by 48% in 2003, but robot use in the UK is still lagging far behind the rest of Europe.


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