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Summary:

I’ve written about robots powered by smartphones and the web, so you’d think I’d be comfortable seeing a new robot video. I saw one today showing the PETMAN, and I’m actually torn between amazement and fright. Then again, he might make for a good personal assistant.

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I’ve written about robots powered by smartphones and the near-infinite knowledge available on the web, so you’d think that I’d be comfortable seeing a new robot video. I saw one today and I’m actually torn between amazement and fright. No, this robot has no intelligence or self-awareness, nor does it have an invisible interface such as Siri , but it’s one of the most human contraptions I’ve seen yet.

I would have incorrectly guessed the name of this robot as an early Cyberdyne T-100 model from the Terminator films. Instead, it’s the PETMAN, created by Boston Dynamics for the U.S. Army. Don’t be scared though: We’re not sending the highly agile metal man into the battlefield, and it won’t likely rise up against the human race.

PETMAN’s sole purpose is to simulate a soldier to test chemical protection clothing. And by simulate, I don’t mean just walk, squat and do push-ups; although it can do those with amazing agility: Drop and give me 20, PETMAN.

The robot moves like a human solider, but also “simulates human physiology by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating inside the clothing to provide realistic test conditions.” So no need to worry about PETMAN for now, unless you have a fear of being sweat upon by a machine. Still, I wonder if there are any plans in the works to add sensors and connectivity to eventually add some basic intelligence and awareness. PETMAN could be an interesting remote spy, so long as he has an eternal supply of deodorant and a real head; that flashing red light atop his shoulders would be a dead giveaway.

  1. Bad headline. Why Siri? Kinect would make more sense.

    Siri is just imitating one of Kinect’s features. Kinect would add a whole lot more to this hack, too.

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    1. Tim, either would work of course, but I mentioned Siri mainly because I think it has a better chance of becoming the “invisibile interface” across far more devices than a Kinect does. Just my opinion, of course. Also, click the first link in the story and you’ll see we’ve covered Kinect-powered robots before. ;)

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      1. Kevin just come out of your closet and admit you’re an iDiot. Who didn’t realize that when Siri came out last year it was just another AI App with Voice Recognition qualities like VLINGO and 50 others. But which btw, is a much better developed mobile AI bot, that’s already on many systems, both on Android and iOS. With things Siri can’t come close to performing right now. Like “In Car” total hands free the moment you dock your Android Phone in your car, w/ Voice Turn by Turn, Street View and the only augmented reality Layar Browser being on Android! ^_*

        But don’t get mad about what I’ve just said. Just try the VLingo App on Android and the iPhone. Then compare them to Siri. Also the developer who made Siri already had ports for Android and Blackberries on the way. Before Apple merely chose to buy the company to kill it being used by competitors. Even though there are basically over 50 comparable companies big and small who have the same basic application on mobiles and desktops.

        Even Google has had Guru for quite awhile. What’s funny is that Google Guru had many of the same canned answers as Siri does now. Like to questions it doesn’t have an answer for…. being “42” from the movie “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The answer to “Life the Universe and Everything” being “42”. Now how original is that? NOT!!!! lol….. ;-P btw…. I like your writing style, but please don’t be so narrow minded and such an RDF drugged 1984 “Doublethink” Drone. I don’t think they’re casting for extras in a Apple Commercial Remake! ;)

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  2. Hahaha. I love how the word “Siri” is in the title of this post even though the story is unrelated. But your connection between the robot and Siri makes me think more about Siri’s genius in that you can take the technology and apply it elsewhere to enhance other creative and technology products.

    Read more: 3 Lessons Siri Can Teach You About Marketing!
    http://blog.sfcopywriter.com/2011/10/25/3-lessons-siri-can-teach-you-about-marketing/

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    1. Hahaha. I love how the “Siri” link is in your comment, even though the story is unrelated. ;) Seriously though: in my past robotics coverage, I’ve alluded to the smartphone and its sensors as a way to control robots; including by voice. And if it can understand natural language like Siri can, that makes for a far more usable robot that a wider audience of people can interact with.

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