Do you ever wish you had a magic robot to clean your house for you? Do your homework? Or just be around to talk with? You may not be the only one. In some ways, advancing technology makes our lives more convenient or efficient. In other ways, it keeps us connected through social media and networking. But what if you could be friends with technology? Technology like a robot? The idea of robot companionship is nothing new. In the early 1960s, the cartoon The Jetsons debuted. The Jetson family lived in a futuristic age with flying cars, robots, and aliens. Rosie, their humanoid robot housekeeper, came from the U-Rent a Maid service. Rosie talked and acted like a human, and even had a boyfriend. In the 1986 movie Short Circuit, an accidental electrocution of an experimental military robot brought him to life and gave him human-like qualities and a sense of free will. This robot character, who named himself Johnny 5, was intelligent, compassionate, and friendly. Johnny 5’s hit movie even inspired a sequel a few years later.
With advanced technology, each household having its own Rosie or Johnny 5 is not a far-fetched idea. In 2015, Spin Master released the Meccano MeccaNoid G15 KS. Constructed from more than 1,100 pieces and 10 motors, it stands four feet tall. Once built, the MeccaNoid is your own personal robot and new buddy. He comes pre-programmed with jokes, sayings, and movements such as dancing, kung fu, and hi-fives. If that isn’t enough, you can further program him in two separate yet simple ways: Learned Intelligent Movement (LIM) and Ragdoll Avatar. With LIM, you press a button, physically move the robot and record your voice, and that information is saved and played back to you. The Ragdoll method uses your smartphone or tablet. By downloading MeccaNoid’s app and syncing with Bluetooth, you can click and drag parts of the robot avatar on your screen and the robot mimics them. Another option requires placing your smartphone inside MeccaNoid’s chest. Your phone’s camera captures your movements and the robot copies you. These simple programming methods make him enjoyable for adults and children alike. Will robots be our new best friends? Or will they take over the world? Time will tell. Meanwhile, you can check out MeccaNoid and his other robot pals from throughout the years by visiting The Strong’s Build, Drive, Go exhibit on the museum’s second floor.