An odd thing occurred to me today while visiting with my father in the hospital. I was nearly run over by a robot. Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic. There was no chance of me being run over by the robot, or even blasted with its powerful lasers.
Okay. I was raised with Twiki from Buck Rogers and of course R2D2 from Star Wars. It should come as no surprise that after Star Trek foretold of flip cell phones with their “communicators”, that with Twiki and R2D2 we would have robots doing human tasks.
The concept does not always work. I have seen my employer throw away millions of dollars trying to replace the hard work that humans do in an effort to be efficient and replace human workers. But how about when the robots actually work. I saw the medical “R2D2” this evening on my way back from the restroom. There had been some nurse work going on in my father’s room, so I stopped outside of his doorway to wait for everyone to leave. And there it was.
Creeping behind me ever so quietly was this box on wheels, but no one had been pushing it. It rolled by itself. There was no tracking on the floor for it to follow. It stopped about a foot and a half away from me. I was not sure if I should move out of its way as if playing some sort of game of robotic chicken. But the delay from my thought displayed something amazing. Its rollers on the bottom of the cart had turned approximately forty five degrees and then the unit rolled two feet. The rollers then turned forty five degrees to the left and the unit rolled, stopped and straightened and continued on its way another four feet until it had arrived at the nurse’s station. As it stopped, it announce, “your delivery has arrived.”
The robotic cart had been delivering medical supplies or prescriptions for the patients on the floor. The nurse put her combination into the lock and the unit opened. The nurse took her delivery, closed the box back up, and the unit continued on its way. It was amazing to watch. I had to wave my hand by a sensor on the wall to open the door to the patient room corridor. The doors just opened for the robot. I had to push buttons to call the elevator. The robot called the elevator directly.
I have seen plenty of television shows and movies and looking back, it is amazing the things we saw in science fiction that have come true today. It no longer seems far fetched to watch a movie and wonder how long before we see cars that fly and other inventions. Of course I would rather see a movie that discovers a cure for all cancers, and then hope scientists and inventors come up with the same idea in the near future.