We all know Robby the Robot, the iconic robot from Forbidden Planet. The robot possessed a wide variety of abilities, the most relevant of which was the ability to move around, pick up and manipulate objects with its hands. Why is this relevant? Read on.
Joanne O’Riordan from a town called Cork in Ireland was born with Tetra-amelia Syndrome. This means she was born without arms or legs. Believing that she should have the chance to excel at life like any normal person, she spoke at the 2012 United Nations Telecommunications Conference. Here, she challenged the developers and makers at the conference to create for her a robot that could act as her arms and legs.
I want to live an independent life, just like you. I don’t want to live in the shadows of others because I want to make my own journey in life. I know if I’m given the chance, I can and will succeed.
Kevin Kelly, an associate professor at Trinity College in Dublin, heard the call and subsequently led a team of student engineers to build Robbie the Robot, a 5 foot tall humanoid prototype. Robbie has a torso, a face and two arms, but moves around on one leg which can bend, allowing the android to pick up objects close to the ground. Departing from the iconic movie robot, Robbie has a cartoon face that can smile or frown depending on the circumstance.
Here’s a video of the robot and of Ms. O’Riordan: