When we envision robots we often think of “RoboCop” protecting our cities or something more dystopian like “I, Robot” where a robo-phobic Will Smith defends humanity from artificial intelligence gone rogue. Today’s robots have not advanced that far technologically, but they are headed for amazing improvements over the next couple of years.

One major advancement that is paving the way for more sophisticated robots is 3D imaging & sensing. Today, systems based on 3D sensing technologies are part of the most innovative imaging solutions available for Robot Operating System (ROS) builders. With companies like Orbbec leading the way, new and more affordable sensors are available that allow for robotic technology to be built for more traditional areas, like your home or office.

Depth-sensing has long been a stumbling block for robotics developers. Orbbec 3D cameras, like the Astra Series, provide a high resolution RGB camera along with depth sensors to make the robots vision much more practical as it traverses corridors and interacts with humans.

A major ROS innovator helping to bring robots into our homes is Oculus Prime. The Oculus Prime SLAM Navigator is a tele-robotic, internet operated vehicle that is capable of autonomous navigation, automated patrols and security sensing functions. This smart, but very functional, robot is equipped with an Orbbec Astra 3D camera that allows it to drive itself through an environment, detecting and avoiding moving and stationary obstacles. You can create a map of an area, set navigation goals and define waypoints on the map, all remotely using the web browser interface.

A 3D imaging & sensing market revolution is happening, thanks to an expected explosion of consumer applications. While RoboCop is still a long way off, these new robots will help us clean our house, secure our businesses and eventually protect our streets.