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The next generation of robots

This is Science Today. What will the next generation of robots look like - and more importantly, what will they be able to do? These are just some of the questions driving new research by a multi-university team that is being funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the National Robotics Initiative. Ken Goldberg, a robotics expert who is leading the University of California, Berkeley team, says the goal is to explore how robots will enhance the work of humans.

Goldberg:          Robots are not here to replace humans. The new way of thinking is that robots are here to enhance human skills and performance. We can think of them as collaborators and that they're here to enhance our skills.

Narrator:        In surgery, for instance, a human-robot system could basically mean an extra set of hands for suturing while the surgeon is focused on more complex procedures. Goldberg is collaborating with a UC Davis cardiac surgeon to help train their open source surgical robot called RAVEN.

Goldberg:       Again, we're not replacing the human, but we're enhancing the human by basically being able to have the certain subtasks performed autonomously.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.