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'Jetsons' technologies that are here, sort of

4:53 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
  • George Jetson videochats with his boss, Cosmo Spacely. (Photo: Smithsonian Magazine)
  • Terrafugia is showing off a concept of a flying car called the TF-X, which wouldn't be expected to be ready for deliveries for another decade. As seen in these artist renderings, it would take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane, but could driven on roads like a car as well. Terrafugia
    
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Jolie Lee
USA Today Network

The Jetsons gave generations of viewers a glimpse into what the future might look like. First aired in 1962, the animated TV show envisioned the world in 2062, where cars flew and robots lived and worked alongside humans. Amazon's announcement that it is testing drones to deliver packages brings to mind some of the futuristic innovations popularized by The Jetsons. USA TODAY Network takes a look at five Jetsons technologies that have at least been partially realized.

Rosie the robot-maid

Rosie did it all - she talked, she cleaned, she watched the kids, Elroy and Judy. Rosie even looked the part of a maid with her white apron. Today, we don't have an all-in-one robot-maid quite to Rosie's sophistication. But we came a step closer with autonomous, robotic vacuum cleaners, notably iRobot's Roomba released in 2002. The robot's sensors detect dirty spots and avoid obstacles. It also doubles as a ride for pets.

Other robots -- although not yet common in the household -- look and act more like the humanoid Rosie. Toyota's "partner robot" has an arm that can grab and lift things, including a vacuum cleaner, and is activated by voice command. The Mahru-Z, developed by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, has a human like body that dumps clothes in the washer and heats food in a microwave, The Korea Times reports

Flying cars

Fans of The Jetsons when it first aired would surely have been disappointed to learn that by 2013 flying cars hadn't become a dominant mode of transportation. But there is a glimmer of hope: A U.S. aerospace firm is designing a vehicle that drives like a car, takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane. Terrafugia's TF-X is scheduled for delivery in 2015.

Automatic meals

On The Jetsons, push some buttons on a machine and, voila!, breakfast, lunch or dinner is served. Personalized meals from a machine may not be here yet, but Coca-Cola Freestyle offers a soda fountain that customizes the flavor of your soda, with more than a hundred flavors to choose from.

Looking ahead, NASA's Advanced Food Technology program is exploring 3D printing as a way to provide customized food for astronauts. Currently, space food must be selected before a mission and crewmembers can't personalize the foods they want. A 3D printer could allow astronauts to choose their desired flavors, textures, shapes, as well as any nutrients they want to add to their meal.

Folding car

At the push of a button, George Jetson's car folded up into a briefcase. We may not ever reach that point, but researchers in South Korea have developed the Armadillo-T, an electric car that folds in half and can be parked remotely using an app on your smartphone, according to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, which developed the car.

Want something more portable? Moveo has an electric scooter that can be folded and pulled like a suitcase. The company is aiming to launch the product mid-2014.

Video chatting

Perhaps no Jetson technological feature has been as fully realized as communicating over video. From Skype to Apple's Face Time, we now have an abundance of ways to connect face-to-face, even if someone is halfway around the world. Other video chat services include Google Hangouts, Tango and Tout. 

USA Today Network

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