Nine Tasks Robots Can Do That May Surprise You

Machines can cook your dinner, fill your prescriptions, make your shoes and much, much more

SoftBank's humanoid robot "Pepper" can lead funerals. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/AFLO/Alamy Live News)
smithsonian.com

News of a Japanese robot conducting Buddhist funerals got us thinking about how our robot-filled future is fast becoming our robot-filled present. Robots—machines that can be programmed to perform complex human tasks (or tasks that humans can’t or shouldn’t perform)—are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and are showing up in more unexpected areas of life. They staff hotel desks, fill pharmacy prescriptions, lead workout classes and patrol for sharks. Here’s a roundup of some of the coolest and most unexpected things robots can do for us these days. 

Conduct Your Funeral

Pepper, a customizable android, has lately been taught to lead Japanese funerals. Dressed in a priest's robe, it can chant Buddhist sutras while banging a drum. It can even livestream the funeral for loved ones who can't be there. Though Pepper has yet to lead a real funeral, its promoters say it could help lessen costs for families who can't afford an expensive ceremony. Christians in need of robotic succour can turn to BlessU-2, a robot priest who gives blessings in five languages. 

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