彭蒙惠英语：20110114 MP3在线课程 Robots at Work
Robots at Work
by Troy Wolverton / (c) 2010, San Jose Mercury News. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
New robots give absent workers presence in the office
Late one July night, California Fire Captain Verne Chestnut and his crew were checking out a fire alarm at an office building when he saw movement inside. Worried that someone might be trapped, he took a closer look.
What he saw was not a person but a robot, and it was waiting at the front door, as if to greet them. After the fire crew got inside, the robot followed them as they inspected the building. And after they finally succeeded in shutting off the alarm, it spoke to them.
"It was just like, 'You're kidding!'" said Chestnut. "It was definitely different being met by a robot."
Chestnut quickly learned that the voice of the robot belonged to Trevor Blackwell, the CEO of Anybots, the robot-making company whose alarm had sounded. Blackwell, on vacation in Hawaii,was controlling the robot over the Internet. And if he's right, robots like the ones his company makes are about to become commonplace.
Entering the mainstream
Anybots' QB model is just one of a group of new remote-controlled robots now hitting the market. Employing communications technologies similar to Skype and robotic technologies akin to those found in robots used to explore Mars or help defuse bombs in Iraq, the new robots cost far less than their predecessors and are designed for more ordinary uses.
Blackwell, who founded Anybots nine years ago, said the $15,000 QB can inspect warehouses or factories remotely or provide tech support. Security firms are also likely to be interested, said Jackie Fenn, an analyst who covers emerging trends. If security guards see something suspicious on a video camera, they could send in a robot to get a closer view, rather than having to go out and inspect it themselves.