Since robots live in a binary world, it is difficult to program them in a way where they can understand the nuances and inflections of human speech among many different people.
A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University may have made that unnecessary. They can instruct a robot to find and deliver things using something more direct than speech - a laser pointer.
El-E (pronounced like the name Ellie), a robot designed to help users with limited mobility with everyday tasks, autonomously moves to an item selected with a green laser pointer, picks up the item and then delivers it to the user, another person or a selected location such as a table. El-E, named for her ability to elevate her arm and for the arm's resemblance to an elephant trunk, can grasp and deliver several types of household items including towels, pill bottles and telephones from floors or tables.