It’s 2016, and robots that cook and clean for us have yet to take over the American household. But that doesn’t mean that homes staffed with robots aren’t a possibility in the near future. Here are 11 facts about the past, present, and future of personal robots.
1. PEOPLE IN 1900 THOUGHT THEY’D BE COMMON BY NOW.
At the turn of the 20th century, a group of French artists produced a series of paintings depicting what they imagined life would be like in the year 2000. Among the personal robots they envisioned were sweeping bots, grooming bots, and razor-wielding barber bots. We haven’t quite reached that level of robot integration in the home yet, but it’s a world that’s a lot more feasible than it was 100 years ago.
2. SOME OF THE FIRST HOME ROBOTS WERE CHILDREN’S TOYS.
One of the hottest gifts a kid could receive in the 1980s was a programmable robot. Some came ready-to-go while others gave owners the option to assemble them themselves. Once they were put together, the robots could perform simple tasks like moving around and lifting light objects. The robotic toys on the wish lists of today’s children are much more sophisticated.
3. AUTONOMOUS VACUUMS HELPED MAKE DOMESTIC ROBOTS MAINSTREAM.
The first domestic robot to break into the home in a big way wasn’t a humanoid maid or butler, but a disc-shaped piece of dust-sucking machinery. Robotic vacuums were an exciting development for homeowners in the early 2000s. Using motion sensors, the devices could navigate obstacles in a room while detecting dirty spots on the floor. Millions of robot vacuums have been sold since their debut. The technology has come a long way since the early robot vacs. Some robots have advanced features such as laser navigation, Wi-Fi connectivity and corner clever technology—much more sophisticated than the early round bounce-around robots.
4. SERVICE ROBOTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE FEMALE.
Robots are officially genderless, but the voices given to our computerized helpers tend to be those of women. Some experts blame gender stereotypes for this trend: When robots are coded female, they’re often fulfilling traditionally feminine duties like caretaking. Another theory suggests that roboticists are hesitant to use men’s voices in AI because male robots have been…