back to article Get ready for Europe's robo-butlers: Billions of €€€s pledged to electro-slave dream

The EU has announced a hefty billion-euro investment fund for robotics research, which it hopes will create 240,000 new jobs across the economic region. Care-O-bot 3 serves a drink Care-O-bot ... not terrifying at all (Credit: SPARC) In the world’s largest civilian robotics programme, the European Commission, along with …


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  1. Beaufin

    I'd prefer a robot maid thanks

    1. WraithCadmus


      Do you want the French Maid or the Japanese Meido?

  2. Isendel Steel


    Are Sun involved ?

  3. knarf

    Mixed Views on this

    Not good for lowly paid home helps (no job)

    Good as I don't have to move to get a beer

    I may never have to hover again

    But maybe we should be getting more active not less.

    Remember the first law of Robotics.....make money

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed Views on this

      It's more than home helps who will be on the scrap heap, given that the money is "for research into industries like manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and household robotics".

      Personally I don't think this has anything to do with household robotics, agriculture or health. The term "civil security" is a rather sinister one, and I think that's what the money's going to be spent on. The only hope is that this is after all the EU, so the chances of them being successful in building a Eurobocop is about the same as the chances of them getting their accounts successfully audited.

      1. phil dude

        Re: Mixed Views on this

        Yes, that is always a worry with government - they exist to serve themselves...

        As for home helps etc, I am bit more optimistic, as it is not always possible to provide 24 hours support for elderly and disabled folks. For example, just having a robot remind a patient about medications or food, or to drink or... And then a home help, could check the robots records..

        Just trying to think outside the box....


    2. Vic

      Re: Mixed Views on this

      > I may never have to hover again

      If I had that skill, I'd use it whether I had to or not...


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wait, what?

      You can hover?!

  4. Khaptain

    I want a robot......

    I want a robot that goes to work on my behalf - this will keep me happy.

    I want a robot that will lay crazy paving around my garage - this will keep the wife happy..

    I want a robot that will build me a 16m yacht for less than 10K - this will annoy the neighbour..

    I want a robot that will be bigger than my neighbours robot - this will annoy the neighbour even more.

    I want a robot that can defend my home from other people's robots - oops it all went too far.

    I want a robot that has a remote controlled self destruct button - just in case my robot becomes a little too friendly with the neighbours robot.

    1. stucs201

      Re: I want a robot......

      I want the remote button for the neighbour's robot's self-destruct mechanism.

    2. knarf

      Re: I want a robot......

      I want a robot to key an eye on my first robot.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When is it going to happen?

    Robotics has always struck me as a field/science/technology that's always on the cusp of something big and yet hasn't really lived up to the hype. Sure, industrial robotics has made a contribution but most of these are 'dumb' and the best home robots we have at the moment are floor cleaners etc..

    What we really need is an AI breakthrough, simple as that. The rest is just mechanical engineering (and I don't mean that in a belittling way).

    1. FuzzyTheBear

      Re: When is it going to happen?

      Yep .. you need a positronic brain to make it work. It will take several more generations to come up with suitable processing hardware and sensorsd that you will be able to fit in a humanoid shaped robot For now .. all we can do is watch mechanical dummies go about without a purpose.

  6. monkeyfish


    Medibot loves hundreds and thousands!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For that kind of money you could just employ a human to do the job and slash the dole queue at the same time...

    1. Trygve

      No you can't....

      Not unless you want to import millions of third-worlders to slave away for minimum wage - which is the Anglo-American 'solution' to the problem of rising wage expectations and an ever-rising dependency ratio

  8. Norman Hartnell

    I want a robot...

    ....that can climb stairs.

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    Smart house or Robobutler

    Rather than the internet of things, a house full of networked smart appliances makes more sense to me and possibly makes more sense than a Robobutler.

    Though I have to admit to wanting an electronic slave, the question is do people really want a mechanical. Copy of a human or simply a home environment that makes life easier?

    I think as mentioned above there is a need for a really functional AI for robotics to move forward significantly.

    1. dogged

      Re: Smart house or Robobutler

      > Though I have to admit to wanting an electronic slave, the question is do people really want a mechanical. Copy of a human or simply a home environment that makes life easier?

      It most cases, the latter. However, some things - like the ironing and putting your stuff away - are simply better suited to a mechanical human.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Smart house or Robobutler

      "do people really want a mechanical. Copy of a human or simply a home environment that makes life easier?"

      Really I want a home environment that makes life easier, but the way current homes are structured to be used by humans, humanoid robots are the best way to accomplish that.

      Maybe in the future for example it's possible that anautomated delivery vehicle will deliver my groceries through a hatch in my home from where they automatically go into a cupboard / fridge / freezer, from where my autonomous chef will take them, combine / prepare and cook them, and my freshly cooked meal will pop out of a slot in the wall straight onto my table while I'm sitting in front of my TV. I wouldn't ever even need to have physical access myself to the fridge or cupboard?

      But for the moment, we have doors and fridges and cupboards and furniture etc etc that are all designed to accommodate the human form so humanoid (-ish) robots are what works best (for now)

      1. Khaptain

        Re: Smart house or Robobutler

        In the future there will be no need for "tangible" foods. All that will be required is a tiny pill that contains exactlly the ingrediants required which permit your body to function at is most efficient level.. This in turn will allow your body to by used as food for the "Gene Pool", literally a pool of genes, that your Android

        hosts require in order to have intelligence faculties.

        You will in fact have become the slave to the robot.

        And that's looking at things from a postive standpoint.

  10. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    but can they make it say

    "Here's yo drank, Mr. Hun."

    For my occasionally humor-impaired USAian brethren: it's from a Monty Python skit, not what you might have been thinking...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I for one welcome our new robot overlords

  12. dogged

    Agricultural robots?

    Robots that carry bales of hay through mud down to the feeders in pissing rain.

    Robots that can attach a cow to a milking machine without frightening her so badly she gives yogurt.

    Robots that can mend a sheep-proof fence in the snow.

    Robots that can lay a hedge.

    Robots that can catch and crush for a TT test.

    Robots that can birth a calf.

    Yeah. Good luck with that.

    1. Khaptain

      Re: Agricultural robots?

      >Robots that can attach a cow to a milking machine without frightening her so badly she gives yogurt.

      I recently visited a modern farming facility where the entire milk produciton facility is ran automatically/ robotically.

      Every cow has an RFID tag which activates the various automates/robots as the approach. They can get food and water as they require, they have brushes for scratching their backs, no joke and when they feel like giving milk they amble of towards the milking machine The milking machine reads the tag, decides if they cow has given enough or not for the day and they lets here enter the milking parlour.

      A laser scans the position of the udders and then directs each suction cup precisely under each teat, it even allows for a certain degree of movement. When the machine detects that there is not milk left the cow is liberated and continues her day. The cows really did not seem in the least worried or disturbed and no farmer with a big stick was required to make them enter the miliking machine..

      Because of the RFID tag, the exact cow's milk can be analysed and where necassary included or excluded into/from the global production. The analysis even detects various illness within the cattle's milk and thereby warn the farmer by SMS . Subsequently excluding the animals milk from further inclusion in the production.

      The animals appeared to be very calm, healthy and apparenty milk production was 20% above the production of the animals that were outside. And yes the robots/automates even manage to clean up the cowshit.

      It was a very interesting visit, the farmer was more than happy to give me a guided tour. The downside for him though was the investment, it was massive, he explained to me that he personally would not be able to pay of the debt during his lifetime, that would remain for his ascendants.

      The only negative side that I saw was the fact that the cows spent their entire time inside even though they didn't look like unhappy or mistreated animals ! I live in the countryside and am used to seeing the typical lot of cows that live outside, these ones seemed no different, at least to my untrained eye.

      That strikes one of the items of Dogged's list, as for the rest though, well there is still a lot of work to be done.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Agricultural robots?

        I saw or read about this or something very similar a few years ago where the facility was in the middle of a few fields and it also controlled access to these fields for field rotation purposes. It's a phenomenal setup, but I hadn't realised that it had gone any further and was in actual use, particularly given the likely cost.

        1. Khaptain

          Re: Agricultural robots?

          Here is a link to an American farm that is almost exactly the same as the farm that I visited.

          You can skip the first few minutes, at the 6 minute mark it becomes more interesting, at the 8 minute mark you can start to see the machines in action. They don't show the whole farm and all the processes but they do show the some of the interesting parts and also the quantity of information that becomes avaialble to the the farmer.

          There are probably better videos available but this was the first one that I found. This video dates back to 2010, the farm I visited was only last year and the technology was even better, the lasers/robots for teat recognition /placement worked much quicker.

          If you get the chance try and visit one, from an IT/Electronics standpoint they are very interesting. Do not wear your favourite Armani, Hugo Boss suit though.

          Edit : I just came across a better video although I don't remember the farmer explaning to me about the usage "pellets" to entice the cows.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Agricultural robots?


      Don't forget to include:

      Robots that can shout, "ger off my land!"

      Robots that can wave a shotgun at hikers

      Robots to say, "oooh aaarr, you 'ave twenty seconds to comply!"

      Robots that can go down to the Bull for a well earned pint, and complain about that Brian Aldridge...

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Agricultural robots?

        "Don't forget to include:

        Robots that can shout, "ger off my land!"

        Robots that can wave a shotgun at hikers

        Robots to say, "oooh aaarr, you 'ave twenty seconds to comply!""

        You'll also need a sound file with "You townie folk don't understand our country ways."

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    There *is* a half way house in all this.

    Not a full butler, a teleoperator driven by a human.

    That lets a central location service all the homes, near instant availability and a human handles the motion planning, voice and visual recognition.

    The UK's population is aging. Making good use of the yoof will become more important.

  15. aberglas

    I want a robot

    That can do my household chores,

    That can go to work for me,

    That can... that can...

    But the big question is, once I am unnecessary, will the robot want me?

  16. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I want a robot that...

    ...can write witty comments on El Reg for me.

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