Do you remember The Jetson’s, the prime time cartoon series that premiered back in 1962? The show only lasted one season but seemed to rerun for years on the Saturday morning cartoon circuit. The story centered around George Jetson and his family and their misadventures in the the year 2062, where they lived an average futuristic life complete with flying space cars, automated machines that dress and feed them, instant transport tubes, and a variety of robots and gadgets than can do all manner of chores for them.
When I was a kid I always used to wonder what it would be like to have all the futuristic gadgets they had. How cool would it be having a machine that gets you ready for school and brushes your teeth and combs your hair for you. And what about their maid Rosie? She was a robot but she had humanistic qualities, she loved and cared for the family and took care of everything else in the house. A multi-purpose cleaning machine! Wouldn’t she be a great addition to your household?
Well, maybe she will, and soon! A small robotics company in the Silicon Valley has designed a robot called the PR2 (personal robot) that can load a dishwasher, fold clothes, set the table, get you a beer from the fridge, washes dishes, plays pool and bakes! And she even kinda, sorta looks like Rosie too! Okay so she doesn’t really look like Rosie, but with a little patience, in no time at all you’ll have her doing the above tasks and more! Your own personal household helper that won’t ever complain, talk back or get an attitude with you. Pretty sweet huh?
Developers believe the idea of having skilled and intelligent household robots is close at hand, much closer than we imagine. They believe that within 10 years the technology will exist for affordable and useful household robots. At its current stage of development the PR2 is still too cumbersome, slow and does too few tasks to be of real interest to most consumers. Then there’s the price tag for such cutting edge technology. Today the cost to purchase a PR2 is about $400,000, just a bit high for most American households. But if you have a genuine interest in owning a PR2 and the money, developer are offering substantial discounts amounting to $120,000! So for as little as $280,000 you can have a Rosie of your very own. The rest of us will just have to wait awhile longer until prices drops down into the range of a small or midsize automobile, or better yet the price of a major household appliance.
The introduction of a PR2 in the home that performs a multitude of tasks as capably as Rosie is still a ways off, but we may begin to PR2’s popping up in small business and industry doing repetitive tasks or acting as mobile security guards. Another likely industry with great potential for PR2’s is in-home healthcare for the disabled or the elderly where there is a shortage of nurses for home visits and care. PR2’s could be quite valuable as we baby boomer quickly become the elderly.
In the meantime we’ll have to continue tending for ourselves and hope that when the Rosie type PR2’s comes rolling off the assembly line ready to keep our homes clean and sparkly, and take good care of us, we are able to afford one on our fixed income. Perhaps most of their cost will be covered by our health insurance carrier, Medi-Care or Medi-Cal. I sure hope so.
If and when I get one I’m going to call mine either Alice, Hazel or maybe even Benson. Or perhaps something french like Monique, Renee or Simone, I’m not sure. Guess I’ll have to wait and see…
Just a thought…