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Greg Jordan: Ice cream and hotdogs served with a side of high-tech hospitality

Apr. 4—When I was a kid, I dreamed of the day when robots would be commonplace. Movies and TV shows offered plenty of examples. There was Rosie the robot maid on The Jetsons" cartoon and the robot on "Lost in Space." I love the giant robot Gort in the classic sci-fi movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and Robbie the Robot in "Forbidden Planet." and don't get me started with C-3PO and R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies.

Well, we have robots now. There are dog-shaped robots that explore tunnels and huge one-armed robots that build cars. Little round ones vacuum carpets and there are others that fry hamburgers and make pizzas.

Now we have one that serves ice cream and hot dogs.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph Photographer Tara Wyatt and I met Sprinkles the Robot when we covered a ribbon cutting for Evan's Sweets in downtown Bluefield, Va. He can serve up your order and give you a cheerful greeting, too.

Sprinkles isn't R2-D2 or — tha nk goodness — the Terminator, but he was getting the job done. The children there that day dubbed him "cool," which is a seal of approval for any robot.

Back at the newsroom, we talked about Sprinkles and wondered what alternate names we would give him. Sprinkles is good for any place serving ice cream, but I think most people would want to personalize their robots.

Tara said she would name her Sprinkles robot Bob. She just likes the name.

I'd name my robot Arnold after Arnold Schwarzenegger. This restaurant robot would drone, "I'll be back" after taking an order.

I keep hearing talk about domestic robots becoming commonplace some day. These models would be able to do everything from vacuuming the carpet to cooking dinner. I'm more inclined to think we'll have multiple robots, each one designed to perform one task very well. One robot will do the cooking, another take care of dusting and another handles the laundry.

What would life be like if we can have a robot butler or maid in the classic sci-fi movie sense? We could give them the voices of favorite celebrities and with AI with them capable for conversations on some level. I'm not sure how I'd feel about having an appliance like that roaming around my place. I'd always be thinking about robots wanting to take over the world and all that stuff.

The next step would be robots that really look human. I've heard of some being made, but they look like puppets at a Disney World ride. Future technology could improve on humanoid robots like the ones seen in the "Aliens" movies. Imagine having a robot servant modeled after a celebrity or historic figure.

Robots can do a lot of jobs pretty well. They're good for dangerous jobs like clearing away landmines and doing boring tasks in some factories building things like cars and other complicated machines. I still remember my dad ruefully calling a problematic car a "Monday Morning Special." Such a car or truck was built by workers going back to work Monday morning after having the weekend off. Being human, it takes them some time to get back into the swing of things. That's when problems like parts being installed incorrectly occur.

A robot like Sprinkles is a fun addition to life in the region. Children will get to see a real robot in action and adults will get a kick out of it at the same time. While Sprinkles likely couldn't keep the Death Star plans away from Darth Vader or explore Mars, he can serve hotdogs and ice cream. I'm not ready for a robot just let because I don't like the idea of moving my furniture around to make room for it, but it's still fun to think about.

Greg Jordan is Senior Reporter for the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com