Did you know according to predictions by the International Federation of Robotics, by the end of 2011, the world’s population of service robots could exceed 17 million units?1 Intel’s 21st Century Robot program aims to increase the growth rate, diversity, and utility of robots by giving anyone the ability to create their own robot—just as Intel Researcher Brian Johnson did by creating his robot, Jimmy—with its own unique purpose.
Imagine if you could create your own robot. What would it look like? What would it do? Would it remind you to take medication? Feed your pets? Set the table? According to Intel’s resident futurist, Brian David Johnson, that’s pretty much up to you. Working with a team of Intel researchers and engineers through Intel’s 21st Century Robot initiative, Johnson has created files for an open source robot that can be printed on a 3-D printer and programmed to do whatever you might like.
While the notion seems mind-boggling at first, Johnson explains that it’s really no different than a smartphone with customizable apps. As Johnson points out, the younger generation has never known a world without smartphones and apps. They are completely accustomed to a culture wherein they share, trade, and innovate together. And that’s just the way he would like to see emerging robotics evolve. "What's so exciting about the open source model is the public gets involved in developing this first generation of crowd-sourced, consumer robots. We all get a say in what they do, and together we will come up with far more ideas, more innovation, and more creativity," says Johnson.
Johnson’s team has already shared the template for a pilot robot, Jimmy, with 10 teams at various universities, to download, print, and program their own smart mascots.
Best of all, this technology is already here. In May 2014, Johnson’s 21st Century Robot event will unveil new robots created by 10 university teams–the first open source robotics demonstration of its kind. Soon after, you’ll be able to download the files and create your own customizable robot, likely for under $1000.
By inviting the public to participate in the evolution of robots and fast-tracking innovation, the number of possibilities increase exponentially and hasten the reality of new developments in areas like healthcare, public transportation, and other sectors that can vastly improve all our lives.
The science fiction book 21st Century Robot explores the fictional world of Jimmy the Robot and his human, Simon Egerton.
Brian David Johnson and scientist Kristi Morgansen discuss robotic fish and using autonomous vehicles to explore hostile environments, such as our oceans.