Robots in the house!
Willow Garage - Open Source Robotics
Keenan Wyrobek and Leila Takayama, Willow Garage
Eons before there were Roombas and Lego Mindstorms, we humans imagined
electromechanical helpers who would make our existence easier. In our dreams, robots would
move about, sense and manipulate their environment, do our chores, and cater to our wishes.
We envisioned empathetic machines we could trust with our homes, our children, or even our
The 60s and 70s ushered in the era of industrial robots that took over some human drudgery.
And, more recently, robots have emerged that autonomously explore new terrain, help law
enforcement disable explosives, or even perform microsurgery. While positively invaluable to
humanity, these robots seem somehow freakishly apart from humans (or at least less personal
than R2D2). They inspire imagination but also fuel trepidation.
Robots are now coming to the forefront of popular conversation.1 Confronted with the technology
to create what we once just imagined, the media, technologists, and social scientists are
discussing the practical, psychological, and ethical consequences of machines with intelligence.2
This is an opportunity for industrial designers, interaction designers, and human factors experts
to apply their disciplines to help society interpret a new product category that will change the way