7 Robots that are hidden in plain sight

Not every robot has to look like Data from Star Trek. These bots have advanced artificial intelligence and can carry out mundane tasks -- yet they don’t look like the Terminator. By John Brandon

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    Robot Rage

    The traditional android might have two arms, two legs, and a head  -- or look like this guy. But they don't all look like that. These robots are equipped with advanced AI and can carry out mundane tasks, yet they don’t look like something you’d see in a Terminator movie. Next time you're at the hospital, golf course, or parking garage, look a little closer. The bots are here.
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    Robots Around Us: ADD High-Intelligence Robotic Parking Garage

    In the local parking garage
    This Robotic Parking Garage by ADD Inc. will go online in a few weeks. Located at 1826 Collins Avenue in Miami, the garage will automatically detect your car and transport it to one of 139 parking spaces. The robotic garage is smart enough to track the location of your car -- you use a kiosk to input your credentials -- and then, when you come back to pay, the robot spins the car around so it is facing in the right direction.
    Robotic Parking Systems Inc.
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    Robots Around Us: Path Robotics RG3

    At the driving range
    The RG3 golf course robot from Path Robotics can precisely trim golf greens according to a set schedule -- say, every Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Like the more careful mowers for golf courses, there is a fine blade for cutting the grass on a putting green and traction rollers that don’t create divots anywhere on the course, even for tight corners. Software allows the course manager to alternate cutting direction and patterns.
    Path Robotics
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    Robots Around Us: Ford Focus self-parking car

    In your next car 
    If you buy the 2012 model of the Ford Focus, you’re in for a treat. The SEL and Titanium versions include a self-parking feature called Active Park Assist -- it's available as part of the Parking Technology Package. When you pull up to the side of the road to parallel park, you press a button to activate self-park. The car detects the distance to the curb and any other nearby vehicles. You keep your foot on the brake, but the car does all of the calculations for turning the wheel and parking the car.
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    Robots Around Us: Kiva Systems warehouse bot

    Packing up your next purchase 
    Robots have one major advantage over humans: They're never lazy. The Kiva Systems warehouse bots start retrieving goods in a warehouse as soon as someone completes an order. Bots can also plan out strategies -- picking up items for multiple orders in a short time period. If another bot is closer to an item to be shipped, it will pass that order off automatically. In their down time, the bots can re-organize a warehouse based on item popularity, making the retrieval process even faster.
    Kiva Systems
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    Robots Around Us: Aethon TUG hospital bot

    In the emergency room 
    Next time you’re visiting a hospital, make way for Aethon TUG robots, currently deployed in about 135 hospitals like Children’s Hospital in Boston and El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif. The bots can summon an elevator and wait in line, giving humans priority access. They are used mostly for delivering medication to patients -- an on-board tracking system monitors deliveries. The bots can also deliver meals, linens, medical equipment, lab samples, and even take out the trash.
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    Robots Around Us: Gamma Two garage patrol bot

    On patrol in the parking garage 
    Dim lighting is no problem for these patrol bots, which can transmit an HD video signal back to a building security command center. The Cybernetic Brain artificial intelligence on these patrol bots from Gamma Two can track items in the garage, detect whether a door is open or closed, and look for suspicious activity such as a blocked hallway. Security officers can dispatch the bots using a standard voice radio. When they detect a problem, they emit an alert and relay video.
    Gamma Two
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    Robots Around Us: Northrop Grumman X-47B drone

    In the skies overhead
    Developed by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration, the X-47B is a robotic drone on steroids. Intended for aerial reconnaissance and re-fueling, the drone can be sent out on mission with a few mouse clicks. The drone can travel at high subsonic speeds, lasts about 6 hours in flight, and flies at about 40,000 feet -- one could be overhead right now.
    Northrop Grumman Corp.
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