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Robots as Personal Assistants

The increasing presence of robots in industrial applications has been well documented. But robotic technology advances are also trickling down into the consumer market, creating a similar boom in the demand for personal robots. That is the conclusion of a new study by ABI Research titled “Personal Robotics 2009: Task, Security & Surveillance/Telepresence, Entertainment and Education Robot, and Robotic Component Markets Through 2015.”

The study projects the personal robotics market to reach a global value of $1.16 billion in 2009, quadrupling to $5.26 billion by 2015. According to the study, North America is the largest market for personal robots. The Asia-Pacific region is the second largest market, fueled mostly by Japan embracing robots.

These personal robots will incorporate enough intelligence and sensing capabilities to perform chores, security functions, entertainment, or be used as an educational tool. “Telepresence is a big buzzword in the personal robot market,” said study author Marc Liggio. “Robots with telepresence capabilities facilitate the interaction of a remote user with people and environment through the robot. Telepresence is a coming business solution which, while probably not sufficient in itself, may become a necessary component of personal robots.”

As the population ages, I can foresee the increasing deployment of robots to help elderly or physically handicapped people perform tasks, such as cleaning or lifting objects, and communicate any news of illness or health emergencies to friends or relatives. Such robots could also help developmentally challenged children or adults learn and perform tasks.