In the high bay at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, Segways scoot across the floor chasing and shooting soccer balls while other robots hunt for treasure. Nursebots, developed to care for hospital patients, mingle with a robotic Lara Croft lookalike.
Lee Gutkind immersed himself in this frenzied subculture, and in Almost Human he introduces us to Zoë, Groundhog, Grace, and Sandstorm—robots designed to help or, in some cases, replace humans—as well as the colorful cast of students, researchers, scientists, and engineers who are attempting to create robots that can react autonomously to changing circumstances. Almost Human makes intelligible their discoveries and stumbling points, while opening our eyes to a world of mechanical mayhem with the promise to produce miracles.
A remarkable, intense portrait of the robotic subculture and the challenging quest for robot autonomy.