This Could Be the First Face You See Every Day

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Photo: University of Koblenz-Landau

Ever since The Jetsons introduced TV audiences to Rosie the housekeeping robot, lazy humans have longed for a grandmotherly cyborg that serves our every need. Thanks to a team of student researchers at Germany’s Universität Koblenz-Landau, Rosie is nearly a reality. Meet Lisa, an autonomous robot that will wake you up and make you breakfast.

Like Rosie, Lisa has the ability to detect objects and memorize them. Unlike Rosie, she’s not quite humanoid. Though she does have an animated face, it's displayed on a screen near the top of her blue, towerlike body, and she only has a single, forward-facing arm.

This so-called “wake me up test” shows off Lisa’s ability to navigate a complex physical environment and to recognize faces and how they change. Lisa topples no walls on her way to her sleeping master and requires no button-mashing to turn off her alarm. Instead, she recognizes when the researcher actually sits up—a helpful feature for those of us who tend to overuse the snooze button.

In the two videos below, Lisa shows off her culinary skills. She is able to patiently wait for bread to toast, open a toaster oven (with a little human help), and remove the bread before delivering it. In the second video, Lisa juggles a Pringles can, dances while holding a cup of coffee, and serves as a control port for a smart-home setup by remotely turning on a hot plate and coffee machine.

Developed in 2008, Lisa’s abilities continue to grow. The first video of her was uploaded to YouTube five years ago showing off her “first successful grip.” Given how far she’s come, the full Rosie-ization of Lisa by 2063, the year in which The Jetsons takes place, seems pretty likely.