So, what do I know about Vesta?

Is this a new convenience food?

I have to confess that the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the word “Vesta” is a kind of dried instant Paella. But having researched the word on Wikipedia, I’ve found that Vesta, in Roman religion, was the goddess of the hearth, home and family.

If you haven’t heard the rumours, I’d better explain that Vesta is apparently the code name of a special project that Amazon is working on to produce a home robot.

Before you say, “what about Alexa?”, well Alexa, though certainly robotic and also very helpful, does not move. Vesta, apparently, will move around your home.

Oh no, stairs!

All the so-called home robots I have seen so far either move a little on wheels (and do not like thick pile carpets), or they just swivel their camera eyes to look about, without moving their bodies. And none of the robots, rather like the Daleks, are able to climb stairs (as shown in this famous Punch cartoon).

Vesta, take me to bed!

Will Vesta be able to take me up to bed? I hasten to add that I am not suggesting Vesta will be a sex robot! I’m thinking of the day when I am older and even more feeble, and in need of a little help to get upstairs. Rather than buying a stairlift, I would like a robot friend to assist me (I don’t want my wife to put her back out!).

There was a flurry of reports, or rather rumours, about Amazon’s project in April this year, but since that time I have seen very little. One site back in April suggested that perhaps Amazon were trying to create something like Rosie from the Jetsons. Perhaps that will come eventually, but I have to say that I am rather concerned that Vesta will just be a slightly mobile version of Alexa, and not much taller than Alexa either.

And then there are the obvious worries about privacy. Will Vesta have eyes, and will her vision be interpreted at Amazon HQ?

Email message from Amazon: Dear Vesta owner, we have noticed that the paint in the small bedroom at the front of your home is in need of refreshing. Did you know that we have an offer on two litre cans of Dulux this month? Just ask Vesta to order you some today and it will be with you before 8pm tomorrow.

Hopefully Vesta will have on-board interpretation software and will only report back to Amazon for software upgrades . . . and to place your inevitable orders for products!

OK Amazon, I volunteer!

Another story in April was that Amazon would be looking for volunteers to “test drive” Vesta . . . well, if they happen to read this little blog, I would be more than happy to give Vesta a spin in my home and will report my findings on here. I’m not holding my breath, and I don’t need to be carried upstairs, well not just yet anyway.

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Garco the robot

A recent auction lot on eBay prompted me to carry out a little research. The photograph (right) shows Walt Disney with Garco the robot in a publicity still for the Disney TV programme  “Mars and Beyond” which aired on 4th December, 1957.

Garco appears to have been remotely controlled and not totally independent, but, for the time, was very advanced. The suggested uses he could be put to, in the vintage YouTube video (linked below), from the American television programme “Science Fiction Theatre” were:
• Handle dangerous chemicals, or
• Radioactive isotopes, too hot for the ordinary man, or
• Touch live wires without ever getting hurt

The programme’s presenter, Truman Bradley, goes on to say that, “some day soon, we’ll have an automatic man around the house, to mow the lawn, dry the dishes, drive the car, and babysit when we go out. That’s for tomorrow, or the day after, but tomorrow may come soon.”

Sadly, at the present time (sixty years on) I am still waiting for this automatic man to work in my home. I think it will have to be the day after tomorrow!

Read more here.