POINT-AND-CLICK devices have long controlled computer screens. But soon they may also control some household robots that can trundle around living rooms, doing useful jobs.
One robot in development at an Atlanta laboratory is commanded by humans with an ordinary laser pointer, the same kind used by lecturers presenting slide shows. Here, though, the pointer tells a robot what to fetch. Shine its bright light on a dropped medicine bottle on the floor, and the robot will go to the spot, retrieve the bottle and roll back with it.
The robot doesn’t yet say, “Your medicine bottle, sir,” but that may also happen someday, said Charlie Kemp, an assistant professor and roboticist in the department of biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He created the robot with support from graduate students and colleagues.