robots are all well and good if you've got 30 minutes to watch ASIMO
manage a 360 degree turn, but some researchers at Carnegie Mellon have been spending some time trying to figure out a bot that could actually be useful in the here and now. Their result is the Ballbot, a 95 pound unit that balances on a single metal sphere, and is tall enough to look a person in the eye. The robot can manage a smooth floor easily, and is designed for navigating human environments. When it isn't moving, the Ballbot has retractable "kickstands" to hold it up. The next step for the Ballbot is a head and pair of arms to help the robot balance and turn, and the eventual goal is a robot that is a useful helper to the elderly, disabled, or those in an office environment. We're just looking forward to shouting "Ballbot, beer me!"