Bossa Nova Robot CEO Martin Hitch promises people that his company will build the 21st-century version of Rosie the Robot from the TV series The Jetsons. His Pittsburgh company recently developed a prototype robot called the Mobi, which uses "ballbot" technology in which the robot balances and moves using sphere bottom rather than wheels. The idea: the robot can better get through tight spaces and maneuver around toys and other objects. By 2014, the company will introduce a robot that uses this technology to help out with household chores and eventually, those bots will respond to voice commands and gestures, says Hitch. Think: a robotic extension of your iPhone. Instead of looking at your phone or asking Siri for the weather forecast, you just chat up your robot.
Defense research into bionic suits is creating a private-sector market for so-called exoskeletons.