02 October, 2016
Machines are now doing many jobs usually performed by people.
One new invention is a machine that operates cars and other vehicles in parking garages. Another kind of robot can transport food or medicine in some hospitals.
Robots are now used at a new parking garage in West Hollywood, California. Drivers drop off their vehicles in front of the building, and the robots take over from there.
The vehicles are lifted and transported by large machines controlled by computers. The computers record the exact measurements of the automobile and take it to the best available space. The robots can leave cars within centimeters of each other without any mistakes.
Car owner Johnny D'Agostino said he feels good knowing that a machine is moving his vehicle.
"I take my keys and I don't got to worry about a valet taking my car. I don't got to worry about someone scratching my car."
When people return to the garage, they use a ticket to pay for the safe return of the vehicle. The robot then retrieves the car and returns it to the driver.
The 200-car parking lot is the first of its kind in West Hollywood. The city's mayor, Lauren Meister, says the system is easy to use, and reduces air pollution.
"You don't have people going and parking their own cars so the ventilation system is different, and we are literally saving hundreds and hundreds of trees."
City officials say the garage cost about 18 million dollars. This is only a little higher than the usual price, since the building does not need extended lighting systems or walkways for humans to use.
Another kind of robot is being used to carry food and medicine in some hospitals and retirement homes. The automated carriers make deliveries to let workers spend more time with patients.
GoCart carries food, medicine
The robotic GoCart can recognize people and equipment, and move around them to reach its target. Marcus Liebhardt helped develop the robot.
"We drive through the hallways, and during that phase the robot generates a map. Once the robot learns the map, it is able to navigate itself."
The GoCart can operate alone or be used in a group of robots that communicate with each other. Liebhardt said the robot is good at recognizing possible hazards and avoiding them.
"So if people jump in its way, kids jumping around the robot, then the robot will stop in time to avoid any collision. And it will also, if possible, re-plan its route, move around people."
The South Korean manufacturer, Yujin, says the GoCart is good at performing the same activity over and over again. So it hopes the robots will be used in other medical settings in the future.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn adapted this story for VOA Learning English. It was based on reports from VOA correspondents George Putic and Deborah Block. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
deliver – v. to take something to a person or place
garage – n. building where cars, trucks, etc. are kept
valet – n. person who parks cars for guests at businesses
retrieve – v. to get something after finding it
ventilation – n. – a system that delivers fresh air
navigate – v. to find the right way to move through maps or equipment
hazard – n. something very dangerous
collision – n. a crash between two vehicles
scratch – v. to rub a surface with something sharp