If Rodney Brooks’ Heartland Robotics goal of low cost worker robots and robot arms were merged with the new bionic arm work at John’s Hopkins, then able bodied people could wear or use robotic arms that would function as an extra helping hand or two.
Rodney Brooks new work talks about “I want to effect a powerful evolution in the world’s labor markets, and my current focus is to develop low-cost robots that will empower American workers” which is the same as Heartland Robotics. The new work is focused on the Obrero robot.
The bionic arms have integration and control via mind machine interfaces. Artificial intelligence could be activated at times to initiate independent tasks for the robotic arms. Robotic arms could be detached and mounted on a table or a car dash board so that the arms could perform independent tasks such as feeding a child.
Having highly functional robotic arms could be a simpler research target then fully functional androids that had legs, arms and were mimicking all aspects of a person. Carrying around, wearing or using mounted such robotic arms should be highly useful and productivity enhancing.
Even robotic arms that could not perform the most complex tasks could be useful to hold up a book or laptop or cellular phone while your regular arms were occupied.
There are over one million industrial robots in the world and most are expensive robot arms. This clearly shows that there is value in robot arms. Making effective robot arms that are more inexpensive and lighter and more mobile would have value in many more places in the home and at work. It could be better and more common that robot people like C3PO because there may be fewer situations where you need to go to the extra cost and complexity of one C3PO instead of ten robotic arms.