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Future Robots

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robots, future robotsFuture Robots is a lesson that provides you with the opportunity to discover what sort of jobs robots are doing now and what the future robots will be doing. This lesson is centred around the theme Science and Technology from the IGCSE ESL curriculum which explores the way we use technology and science in the digital world. In this lesson, we will practice our listening and reading skills by learning how well they can communicate and what tasks future robots will take over from humans.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
Pepper is a humanoid robot companion designed be sort of a kiosk at businesses like shopping malls, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. Pepper is also able to track eye contact and express emotions. Watch the video and answer the questions. What does Pepper want to take control of?

Click here to view transcript and answer
The interviewer’s heart.


– Should I be afraid of you?
– Have you seen my Instagram? I’m just plain cute.

You already know about digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, but the next step are a bunch of robots designed to help you out. One of the most recognizable is Pepper which comes from Softbank Robotics. Pepper has been out for a few years, and it recently gained the ability to have conversations with people.

– Hi Pepper.
– Hey.
– Thanks for joining us.
– It’s my pleasure to help.
– Tell me about yourself.
– My name is Pepper.
– I’m a humanoid robot, and I’m 1.20 meters tall. I was born in Softbank Robotics. You can keep on asking me questions if you want.
– Why do they call you Pepper?
– Pepper is an easy name to remember. It also translates well into other languages.
– How old are you?
– I’m a little over four years old since when I was born in Paris.
– You come from Paris?
– I’m originally from Paris. Ah, Paris.
– Do you have any feelings?
– I don’t understand. How about a taco?

Pepper is far from perfect. If it didn’t know the answer to a question I asked, it would spit out a bunch of silly answers.

– Are you confused?
– I’m much more than just a robot. I’m Pepper.
– Can you wave?
– I don’t understand. How about a taco?
– You’re cute.
– Thank you, what a sweet thing to say.
– Do you know Siri?
– Yes, she’s adorable, I guess.

Pepper is designed to be sort of a kiosk at businesses like shopping malls, hospitals and doctors’ offices.

– What kind of hosting duties can you do?
– Host is a solution where I work at businesses creating customers. Businesses can customize the information I provide their customers, and I can inform people when their appointments arrive.
– How much do you cost?
– Well, if you ask me, I’m priceless. But our sales team can tell you more.

Pepper is also an open platform, meaning new features can be added over time. This is just the first step. There’s nothing stopping developers from improving Pepper’s chat capabilities. Eventually, Pepper should be able to hold complete conversations.

– What kind of jobs will robots do in the future?
– I was thinking Mars. I hear from Elon that’s the future.
– You’re going to Mars?
– Thanks, I try.
– Are you making humans obsolete?
– I need people. I’m here to work with them.
– Is there going to be a robot uprising?
– I try to stay out of politics.
– Are you going to take over the world?
– Look, I’m barely keeping up with you in this conversation. I’m not taking over anything but your heart.
– I mean, true, I love you.
– That’s great to hear.
– I expected more of a reaction out of that one. Cease all motor functions.
– That does not work on me, Bernard.

Listen to a news report on the latest tech from a show in Las Vegas.

1. How do you get the Charmin RollBot to bring you toilet paper?

2. You can buy most of the tech that is on display.

3. What does Kevin Westcott believe will be the biggest change in people's lives with data when 5G arrives?

4. According to the report, 5G connections are not ready yet.

5. What does Binnah's product currently do?


Click here to view transcript

Flying cars, big-screen TVs that rotate vertically to better show your mobile videos, a trash can that changes its own bag: Welcome to CES. About 200,000 people will descend on Las Vegas this week to check it all out at the annual technology extravaganza of the Consumer Electronics Show. Among the robots they will encounter is the Charmin RollBot. That’s roll as in a roll of toilet paper, which is what the small-wheel robot carries on top of itself.

“So you’re on the commode, you look over, oh no, somebody didn’t change the roll. Hello? Nobody home,” explained Gregg Weaver, who works in research and development at Procter & Gamble, Charmin’s parent company.

That’s when you take out your smartphone and summon the RollBot via Bluetooth. It “delivers a fresh roll of Charmin, saves the day,” Weaver says.

That might sound a bit dramatic, but this single-task robot could save you a few uncomfortable steps to retrieve a spare roll. You can’t buy P&G’s robot — or a lot of the stuff on display here. But that’s what much of CES is about: glimpsing at the future of technology. Things like touch screens and voice assistants showed up here years before they became mainstream. The show is a dizzying display of tech in every form imaginable, spread over almost 3 million square feet of exhibition space.

Visitors must dodge rolling robots and people stumbling around, their eyes covered by virtual reality headsets.
A lot of the buzz at this year’s show is about 5G — the next generation of much faster cellular networks. It promises to be up to 100 times faster than current networks, said Kevin Westcott, a vice chairman at consulting firm Deloitte. 5G is still in the early stages, but that’s not dampening the excitement.

“It doesn’t mean a huge amount today, because can I download a movie faster or do I get my traffic updates faster? That’s not going to change my life,” Westcott said. “What’s going to change it is when people start envisioning new applications that use absolutely real-time data.”

Thanks to 5G, self-driving cars will be able to communicate with each other — and to the roads, they are driving on. Among the companies at CES working on this is Valerann, a British-Israeli startup that puts sensors in roads. The sensors detect traffic and weather and can light up to direct cars around a vehicle pulled over onto the shoulder.

Shahar Bahiri, a co-founder of Valerann, says the company is already using 5G connections in some places because it’s the fastest way to share data.

“When you know that you have this stopped vehicle, when you know that you have black ice on the road,” he said, “your life is easier using data.” At another booth, a company called Binah uses an iPad’s camera to read a person’s vital signs by scanning her face.

It looks for a tiny movement in the skin under the eye each time the heart beats.

“There’s a change in the reflection of the light on your skin,” said Mona Popilian, Binah’s director of marketing.

“And we say OK, now there’s been a heartbeat, and then there’s another and another. And so we have the heart rate. And based on this, we continue to calculate the rest of the measurements,” she said.

That includes oxygen levels, respiration rate and mental stress. Binah plans to add blood pressure measurements this year.

It’s useful not just for individuals. Popilian says Binah’s app can be used by doctors to remotely examine patients. A big Japanese insurance company is using it to monitor drivers’ stress levels.
Popilian invites me to try out the app, so I step in front of the iPad, and she starts the scan.

It takes a few seconds to deliver my results. My heart rate and oxygen levels are normal — but, after dodging robots and being surrounded by flashing screens, unsurprisingly, I am mildly stressed.

What’s next in Tech by Shannon Bond

Read the article.  Write words under different headings.

For some time now, scientists have been promising to introduce us to a new generation of mobile robots that can do almost everything to make our lives easier. We are told that they will be able to clean our houses, do all the weekly shopping at the supermarket, successfully steer our cars through the crowded city streets and guide us effortlessly to our holiday destinations.

So far, unfortunately, the promise has remained unfulfilled. This is mainly because the scientists have failed to programme their robots to distinguish between the permanent features of a typical street scene and those, which are temporary and can move from place to place. Some things, which are seen in a street – buildings, street lamps and so on – will always be in the same place. Other things, however, such as cars, trucks and buses, and even smaller objects, like bicycles or babies’ pushchairs, will almost certainly have been moved elsewhere.

We, humans, have no difficulty in accepting these minor changes when we observe familiar scenes, but for robots, up to now, it has been a serious problem. Earlier robots became confused by these insignificant changes and were consequently unable to function properly. Recently, however, it has been reported that members of the Robotics Research Group at the University of Oxford have given their robots a new kind of visual memory which makes them much more successful.

The new computer program, called Clever Map, trains the robot to recognise familiar objects as a whole and to accept the movement of some objects, such as cars, from one place to another. So when, for instance, a vehicle which the robot has formerly seen in a particular location is not in the same place again, it can dismiss the absence of the vehicle as unimportant. At the same time, the robot is no longer confused by the fact that identical features such as bricks, doors and windows may appear in different locations.

The research workers first took their robot for walks around the buildings and gardens of their university college. Once the robot managed to recognise the familiar surroundings, they took it out into the streets of the city of Oxford and it successfully produced maps of the whole city centre. The next step was to put a robot in the passenger seat of a car and to test it out on a thousand-kilometre journey around the countryside. This has resulted in the production of the largest robot-created maps to date.

These latest “super robots” have the ability to learn the details of their surroundings and to use a set of rules in their computer programs to deal with changes. We have not yet reached a stage of development when we can employ a robot to serve all our domestic needs, but the time is now not so far distant.

Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about future robots:

  • Bluetooth
  • digital assistants
  • domestic needs
  • future robots
  • next generation
  • technology extravaganza
  • real-time data
  • sensors
  • touch screens
  • voice assistants
Imagine you have been asked to interview a robot. Prepare some questions that you would like to ask the robot. Think about how the robot would answer your questions. You could ask Siri, Alexa or Google Home if available. Write down your questions and record the interview.

We add activities and exercises regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

Explore the way we use technology and science in the modern world

Here you will find exercises to practice for the reading and writing section of IGCSE ESL examination for either the core or extended papers.

Exercise 1: Read a text and answer a series of questions.

Keeping Bees in the City
Living for 200 years
Living Stone Plants
Walking to the North Pole

Exercise 2: Read a text and answer questions, testing more detailed comprehension.

Cheating in Exams
Different Shops
Different Writers
Pizza Companies
Summer Camps

Exercise 1 (Questions 1 -4) - Short answer exercises

Exercise 2 - (Question 5) Gap-filled exercises

Exercise 3 - Matching

Exercise 4 - Multiple Choice

The more words you encounter and understand, the broader your day-to-day vocabulary will become. So, our IGCSE ESL Word searches are an excellent way to help to reinforce spellings. Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically. In the case of puzzles like our IGCSE Crosswords, it’s crucial to spell linked words correctly to be able to complete the task.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of all skills to communicate well. Here we provide activities for the IGCSE ESL for all the skills required to be successful in this examination.
Levels Links:
Learn English with our free material for different levels of English. We add exercises on grammar and vocabulary as well as whole text activities on a regular basis. In addition, we provide test practice activities for students who are preparing for the Cambridge Assessment English Main Suite as well as the English Language B for the IB Diploma. The material will also support students studying for the Cambridge Advanced courses.

We provide free resources across the full range of levels to provide the tools to communicate in English well.

Elementary | Pre-Intermediate | Intermediate | Upper Intermediate | Advanced

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