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Giving Avatars Real Bodies 88

trogador writes "Researchers are working to associate online avatars with physical bodies, connecting virtual reality robots with steel and software counterparts. The unification of software and mobility like this results in the so-called 'Ubibot' (ubiquitous robot), which the researchers predict is the future of interactive robotics. In the future, avatars on your pc/cell/pda screen may be able to bring you your tea or scratch your back. 'Two key components of the interface involve the sensor mapper and behavior mapper. The sensor mapper helps Rity get physical (ultrasound) sensor information from Mybot, enabling the virtual avatar to use physical information. The behavior mapper helps Rity actually perform physical behaviors using Mybot in a real environment, enabling the avatar to interact physically with human beings in real environments.'"
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Giving Avatars Real Bodies

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  • In a particularly memorable SeaQuest DSV the world is destroyed by two huge Robotech style robots and they are still running around when the crew gets to the end of time vis a vis the mobius. Turns out it's two kids playing a video game in the same room controlling the robots that destroyed humanity.
    • I remember some cheesy scifi flick that had a robotic *wife* called the Cherry 2000. I remember thinking how sad to be a person that had so little human interaction. Now, I read and post on slashdot, and they are talking about Avatars that pretty much do the same things. I'm nor really sure how to take this. It almost sounds like 2 steps forward and three steps back.


    • Turns out it's two kids playing a video game in the same room controlling the robots that destroyed humanity.

      No. I still remember that episode. It was due to some plague that killed off humanity so they based their lives and wars around video games. Still pretty interesting though.
  • Rommie! (Score:3, Funny)

    by jdigriz ( 676802 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:08PM (#21703742)
    Andromeda Ascendant, is that you?
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jtroutman ( 121577 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:09PM (#21703752)
    Now I won't ever have to leave WoW to get food or drinks! Can the avatar shower for me, too?
  • So basically, if I somehow make my virtual pet/person/robot/whatever kill another virtual person, but the real world physical counterpart ACTUALLY went and kill someone as part of their expression (either intentionally or hugging someone till it crush them). Does that count as the robot killing them or me?

    Lastly, another step towards iRobot or the Terminator?
    • That was my thought exactly. If this technology were implemented, how long would it be before some cracker used a robot to kill someone while they slept or something?
    • by FLEB ( 312391 )
      Well, it depends... did you intend to kill the real person? Was this chain of events an expected response? If so, you're using the robot like a tool, so it would be your "fault". If this was the expected response of your command to the robot, but you were unaware of that, you could be said to be negligently responsible. However, if this was an unpublished bug of the huggy killbot, I doubt many would consider you the one responsible.
  • Summery fix (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    avatars on your pc/camera phone/pda screen may be able to bring you your tea or scratch your back or rip your spine out if you forget to turn off that darn flash
    Fixed it for ya
  • Ultimate outsourcing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wurp ( 51446 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:15PM (#21703810) Homepage
    I thought of this some time ago, but for outsourcing. Imagine if you could pay $4000 for a ubibot, then pay someone in the third world $0.50 an hour to do housework, yard work, etc. for you through a VR interface.

    They get a safe job that pays reasonably for their area, and you get cheap labor.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      Imagine when I have your Unibot bringing all your items to a secret spot while you are at work...

    • No thanks, I don't want some lawless guy I've never met before from a third world hole using a robot to paw through my personal data.
      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        They don't need a robot to paw through your personal data. Your point still stands though on them pawing through your personal property though.
        • Was thinking as they are unlikely to have incredible hacking skills, it was more likely they'd log onto your computer and steal data. Most people don't even password protect their user accounts.
    • As long as you don't mind being asked every five minutes if you're happy with your current telephone plan fees.
    • The folks at Anybots [] are basically working on that idea. Given that sufficient AI will take decades to develop, I believe their robots will initially be about providing telepresence capabilities along the lines that you describe.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by syousef ( 465911 )
      So basically you're saying you want a 3rd world slave in the comfort of your own room.

      Disgusting! Even a half decent human being would feel bad about having a virtual slave like this. (That's okay Rapalumdi, if you want to quit you can always go back to starving. I knew you'd see it my way. Now hurry up with my crisps!). Even better if OLPC supplies the hardware so you don't have to fork out any extra.
      • by wurp ( 51446 )
        Slavery in exactly the same sense that any work you do for someone else is slavery - I don't want to work to other people's orders, but I must because I want to support myself.

        The more jobs you can create for a particular labor pool, the more choice they have to do work they like, and the more they get in return for their labor.
        • by syousef ( 465911 )
          Correction. The more GOOD QUALITY jobs you create for a particular labour pool, the more choice and the better off people are.

          Creating low quality subsistence jobs that don't pay people enough to make a living can actually make things much much worse since they lower the acceptable standard for everyone.

          Modded flamebait or not, I stand by what I said. You just want someone to do your dirty work for next to nothing. You have no interest in the quality of life of the people you use to do it EXCEPT to justify
  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:22PM (#21703876)
    "...enabling the avatar to interact physically with human beings in real environments."

    We all know where this is leading to...

  • Pikers! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:26PM (#21703910)
    Scratch my back? Bring me beer? Make with the sexbot like other scientists promised and I'll use a stick and put my beer in a cooler nearby.
  • Did anyone else misread that? Or are my eyes going bad on a Friday evening?

    • I think your eyes are bad
    • I seriously thought the same thing... And my first name also happens to be Rick... Very unsettling.

      Based on this sampling, we can clearly determine that 100% of those named "Rick" will misread "Bodies" for "Boobies"; however, we can only ascertain this is true when "Bodies" is included in the title of a Slashdot article regarding robots.

      So, my hypothesis - deeply rooted in the facts provided - is people named Rick who visit Slashdot imagine boobies frequently.
    • Yes, your eyes are bad, and yes, that is exactly where this technology is going.
  • So the Unibomber manifesto could someday be read as prophecy after all...
  • by solar_blitz ( 1088029 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:40PM (#21704028)
    I've got mixed feelings. Yeah, having a real-life thing to be your companion sounds nice but if you want that kind of companionship you might want to get a real pet. Then again in areas like South Korea and Japan - where these things would likely flourish - people don't own pets that much. Here's where I can see this going: for a group of nations whose children grew up watching things like Astro Boy, of course they'd have an appreciation of this real world robot/digital world avatar. But we westerners having been raised on I, Robot have a negative outlook on robotics.

    Are we robophobic in the United States?
    • Oh, ok. I thought you said "romo".
    • by smoker2 ( 750216 )

      But we westerners having been raised on I, Robot have a negative outlook on robotics.

      WTF ?
      You consider yourself "raised" by a crappy film, that stole its name from a series of interesting and thought provoking books ? There was virtually nothing in that film that resembled anything from the Asimov books, just a nod here and there, to the 3 laws for instance.
      Personally, I was "raised" reading Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Robert A Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Piers Anthony, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, George

    • by Alsee ( 515537 )
      we westerners having been raised on I, Robot

      Well considering what they have been raised on, I seriously hope these bots aren't rolled out over there first. Small size bots will begin at oh-my-god-don't-step-on-me and just go up from there.

    • by mstahl ( 701501 )

      Are we robophobic in the United States?

      Yes. And with good reason []! You can't have these things goin' wild, you know.

      ( Seriously; I actually know other roomba owners who seem to be afraid of their roombas and I'm not entirely sure why. Mine's named Hobie and it's the best pet ever! )

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      Coming soon to Japan: Remote-operated 1:1 scale Gundams rampaging through Tokyo.
  • and cleaning them up is a very, very messing business. Just ask Harrison Ford.
    • Ok, I know! I said: "... very messing business...."

      I should have said "very messy business." So shoot me. No wait, I am not a replicon. If you shoot me, it's murder not a public service.

      What did I learn from this? Don't post on /. while wearing bifocals and preview before submitting!
    • by Speare ( 84249 )
      The word used in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is 'replicant.' This word doesn't appear in the PKD book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by the way.
      • Oh my! Not only did I mess up my own posting with a typo, but I got the word wrong as well! Color me RED!
    • Okay, so I asked him, and he didn't want to talk about it.
  • I for one welcome our new Personal Masseuse Robot Overlords.
  • Exercise (Score:3, Funny)

    by peektwice ( 726616 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:25PM (#21704364)
    Given that this is Slashdot, and the only exercise that "some" (not all... I didn't say all...) Slashdotters get is in the jackatorium, obesity among Slashdotters on average is only going to escalate, if we develop a robot that will do it (punch the munchkin) for them. See this article [] for further reference. Get a girlfriend. A real one. Even if she's not Princess Leia.
  • sounds to me like a future add-on for Second Life
  • Step 1 - Give avatars robotic bodies to interact in real world
    Step 2 - Give avatar-robots real weapons to act human in real world
    Step 3 - Deploy avatar-warriors in some country to forcably impose peace whether they like it or not
    Step 4 - Destroy documentation on creation of avatar-robot-weapons
    Step 5 - Blame the opposite political party for the problem of rampaging avatars fragging the landscape.

    The sad thing is I'm probably going to be modded funny for this.

  • Isn't this called a remote control? Just because they moved it into a phone, etc. doesn't change that. I think they already have these.

    The only problem would be that now a hacker could take control of your robot from anywhere in the world. Might have worked out better for Syndrome [] if he had gone that way, but sounds like a waste of effort to me...
  • didn't the Andromeda series have a ship that had an avatar body? Rommi or something was her name. (probably a shortening of "Andromeda", which was the ship's name) Until that point (fairly early in the series) the ship had a sentient avatar that presented herself anywhere in the ship as a grainy hologram, but could only communicate and couldn't interact with the environment or leave the ship. One of the crew converted a maintenance bot of some sort to match the holographic projection, allowing the ship's
  • To the person who tagged this article as "fragging furries", wouldn't "yiffing furries" be a more likely outcome of this? After all, the avatars would likely resemble plushies.
  • This sort of reminds me of Pullman's dæmons [], which are kind of like life-long furry avatars of people in the Dark Materials universe. I think it'd be cool if we could have some sort of physical "avatar", albeit a robotic one not a living one as in the books.

    Suppose a person has a sufficiently advanced and intelligent robotic avatar, maintaining a database of all sorts of stuff about him. It could serve as the person's representative not just online but in real life as well, doing all sorts of tasks t

    • by AySz88 ( 1151141 )

      This sort of reminds me of Pullman's dæmons, which are kind of like life-long furry avatars of people in the Dark Materials universe. I think it'd be cool if we could have some sort of physical "avatar", albeit a robotic one not a living one as in the books.

      Considering that dæmons (in the books) are not really "avatars" but physical manifestations of one's soul (see Wikipedia article that parent refers to*), a programmed robotic thing would be a rather pathetic substitute!

      I don't think anything (in my lifetime) will ever manage to directly tap into one's soul... So the closest one can get to simulating a person's dæmon, I think, would be to make the robot be controllable like a natural extension of the person's body, with a very natural interface

  • In a few years, we'll probably see a finalized version of such a device stored in a giant evidence bag as a possible murder weapon.

    In the meanwhile, have we seen any cases yet where someone remotely connects into a complicated mechanical device, in an attempt to kill anyone nearby? I know there was once a lot of speculation about this kind of thing back when cyberterrorism was popular topic within the media... as though someone in china could potentially hack into some factory or utility overseas and create
  • Ubi-bot would mean something like Kil-o-Bot in English.

    In other slavic languages as well.
    • by $0.02 ( 618911 )
      It is actually worse than that. The word robot is also a Slavic word (from Check robotnik = worker, also Russian robota=work or job, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian rob = slave) So ubi-bot sounds killing worker.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein