No, this has nothing to do with the Mayan prophecy. If robots are going to provide meaningful services to the public, there are some big challenges that must be overcome. ATR (Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute) is working with Hitachi, Toshiba, NEC, NTT and Mitsubishi (collectively Network Robot Forum) towards developing an assisted living platform that uses a network of robots that work together to do what a single robot cannot. The system would be deployed in shopping malls to provide a kind of augmented reality experience. For example, you aim your cell phone camera at a product, and it could display information about it.
The network could be used to provide elderly shoppers with helpful information through mobile devices, such as directions or creating shopping lists. Three types of robots are used in the system: unconscious robots (security cameras and sensors) will determine a person’s position in a department store; visible robots (real robots such as ATR’s Robovie-R2 or Toshiba’s ApriPoco) will provide immediate presence and customer service; and virtual robots (digital avatars on a cell phone or computer) will display information.