SLIDESHOW

In pictures: How businesses are turning tech into robot toil

These robots could make our lives easier and, in some cases, safer

Navii shopping assistant robot
Credit: Martyn Williams
See how businesses are using robots to advance their trades

The RoboBusiness conference in San Jose is all about creating business advantages through the use of robotic helpers. Case in point: the Navii shopping assistant from Fellow Robotics, that can greet customers, ask them if they need help, and then guide them to the item they need. Navii will be working in 11 Lowe’s stores around the San Francisco Bay area beginning this fall.

Cirris XR pipeline repair robot
Credit: Martyn Williams
The Cirris XR helps utility companies keep the gas on

The Cirris XR Repair Robot from ULC Pipeline Robotics can work on live gas pipelines, meaning that consumers can continue cooking their dinner while it checks for leaks. An operator can remotely control the tethered Cirris robot from a safe distance and drill in any direction to repair joints. The robot can access 300 meters of gas main through one small excavation.

iPal
Credit: Martyn Williams
The iPal helps parents keep an eye on the kids

The iPal from Avatarmind is a robot for your kids that looks like...well a kid. Standing at 1.05 meters tall and with big black camera eyes, it's supposed to look after and entertain your kids for hours at a time but it comes across as a little creepy. Its skills include answering kids' questions, playing games, and allowing parents to remotely videochat with thier children. iPal is already being produced in China and is expected to make its way into the United States next year. 

Motobot
Credit: Martyn Williams
Motobot takes the threat out of testing

Yamaha is using this flashy humanoid called Motobot to test the limits of its bikes without risking the life of a human rider. Yamaha approached SRI International to help them create this Terminator-like bot with the challenge of making the humanoid without modifying the bike. The end goal of Motobot is to better the lap times of World Champion motorcycle racer, Valentino Rossi.

Flex Omni
Credit: Martyn Williams
Flex Omni will do your heavy lifting

The Flex Omni robot platform from Stanley Innovation will travel over cracks, depressions, or bumps to transport up to 1,000 pounds of inventory. Its mecanum wheels allow it to move in any direction and make it easy to operate in small spaces. The Flex Omni can run for up to 24 hours after a 2-3 hour charge. 

pipeline inspection robot
Credit: Martyn Williams
THESBOT surveys as it slithers

The snake inspired Thesbot robot uses joints to maneuver through pipes and transmit real-time video and data to operators. Thesbot can also be equipped with sensors that detect magnetic fields, ultrasound, and eddy currents. These modules help operators quickly check for metal loss in the pipe thickness as well as locate cracks.

gears, motor, and control boards
Credit: Martyn Williams
Don't forget the small stuff

Of course, none of these fancy bots could work without the small bits. Gears, motors and control boards are an important and integral part of every robot. While not as sexy as the finished product, these are key components that allow robots to performs their tricks and the industry is constantly trying to make them smaller and stronger.