Here is a rather specialized service robot, designed specifically to forecast the weather, designed by researchers at Fudan University (see also FUWA). It was unveiled September 16th, 2010 at the World Meteorological Center, which was built for the Shanghai World Expo. The extravagant center featured an exhibit on climate change and a 4D theater.
The robot fetches live, 72-hour weather updates for more than 2,300 cities nationwide using voice commands spoken through a microphone. For example, you can ask it, “How’s the weather today in Shanghai?” and it will respond with something like, “The temperature in Shanghai is 29.5 ℃ today, sunny with a few clouds.” In the future the robot will provide more detailed responses, like what clothing to wear or what sunblock should be applied.
Weather Robot 1 (天機1號) stands approximately 150cm (5′) tall, with only a few degrees of freedom to rotate the head and arms. It roams around on wheels, using ultrasonic sensors around its base to avoid obstacles. It has a camera and a chest-high LCD screen, and displays emoticon-like facial expressions through an LED array. Besides giving the weather or disaster warnings, the robot can also play a quiz.
Granted, service robots probably should be able to tell you the weather, but I’m not sure that’s the only thing they should do. A video and a few more photos follow after the break.
[source: Chinese Digital Science & Technology Museum (CN)]
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