Category Archives: Development

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.

Advertisements

Boston Dynamics at TechCrunch London

techcrunch2016

Here is a fascinating interview, with new video included of their robots in development, featuring Boston Dynamics at TechCrunch Disrupt, London, 5th-6th December 2016. The balance capabilities of these robots is quite astounding. It’s a long video, but well worth watching.

New walking legs from Google

220px-WallaceandGromitinTheWrongTrousersA new, and as yet unnamed Google robot, has appeared in a new “sneak peek” video on YouTube (see below). The robot, which is about one meter tall, looks just like a walking pair of trousers . . . possibly inspired by Wallace and Grommit’s Wrong Trousers?

The video was recorded by an audience member at a New Economic Summit, NEST 2016, in Tokyo. The robot, which has been under development for some time, appears to be capable of carrying heavy loads, and has superb balance.