There are many things a robot should be able to do. It should be obedient and it should serve humans to make our lives easier. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have made a robot that can give sponge baths. Should we be excited or freaked out?
No one wants to give a sponge bath to another person, especially if you're a nurse. It's a task that is part of the job, but no one enjoys it. A new robot named Cody could replace nurses in the future.
Cody is hacked together from a "Segway omnidirectional mobile base, two anthropomorphic arms with seven degrees of freedom and wrists equipped with 6-axis force/torque sensors. The end of the robot's right arm is fitted with a specialized 'bath mitt' and the robot gathers laser range data and images from a laser range finder and camera mounted above the robot's torso."
Should nurses be afraid that Cody will supplant them? Judging from how slow the robot wipes the accompanying patient's thigh, we say no. Cody is more of a proof-of-concept. If it was truly practical, there'd be enema-giving robots at every hospital. Alas, that is not the case.
The researchers are hoping Cody will be able to assist up to 10.8 million Americans who need personal care. Hmm, maybe Cody needs a face. Yeah, I think that will make it more human.