Robots of the Future

It's not just science fiction anymore.

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The Japanese have always had a special fascination with robots (Remember Astro Boy?). Japanese auto companies are out front in developing androids that could serve as human helpers. Why carmakers? They already use industrial robots in their plants, and they say robots are just another mobility product. They see a big market in Japan's aging population. Robots would help in nursing homes, in hospitals, and around the house.

I recently saw impressive demos in Washington, D.C., of prototypes. The robots can walk, dance, and even play a trumpet. They're still early in development, though. Each came with a team of headset-wearing engineers to make sure their babies would perform as designed. But their developers say the robots could be sold in Japan in a decade or so and soon after here.