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Tell me if this makes anyone else nervous: Some time this year, South Korea’s Hubo Robot (shown sometimes with an Albert Einstein head) will drive a Segway Scooter (A.K.A. Human Transporter).
Don’t get me wrong: I love bipedal robots like the Hubo, which was developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and I am a grudging fan of Dean Kamen’s two-wheeled Segway. But letting a robot drive something that, thanks to its self-balancing capabilities, is also a robot, and that can got up to 12.5 MPH seems, well, stupid and dangerous.
Robot inventor Professor Oh Jun-ho told the Korean Times that Hubo needs only a software upgrade to drive the Segway effectively. Uh, okay.
So now Hubo has the fine motor control to steer the Segway (no word on whether he’ll be driving a first-gen model or one of the new ones that steer like a bike). How will Hubo know that Segways cannot navigate stairs? How will it not run over people’s feet or small children who may be below Hubo’s now elevated line of sight?
At right is a mockup photo from the Korean Times. It shows Hubo not even holding onto the Segway’s handles. I know Einstein never learned to tie his shoelaces, but I’d bet he’d know enough to hold on!
Thanks to robotophile Lance Ulanoff for this post!
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