Always On gets served -- by a robot sushi waiter

"This is one of my favorite robot demos ever," seasoned robot observer Molly Wood says as Willow Garage's open-source PR2 lays out a sushi feast.

Molly and PR2
A special occasion: The sushi-serving PR2 even put flowers on the table when Molly came to visit Willow Garage. Video screenshot by Christopher MacManus/CNET

In this week's Always On (Episode 7), host Molly Wood visits robotics research lab Willow Garage in Menlo Park, Calif., to see how its crafty $400,000 PR2 robot fares as a sushi waiter.

PR2 looks like a juiced-up version of Rosie the robotic maid from "The Jetsons." But even with its buff arms, this humanoid robot can set a table with surprising grace. It shows poise on camera too -- impressive considering that the footage below represents robot sushi waiter's first video appearance.

For those unfamiliar with the open-source robot, the PR2's array of sensors (including a Microsoft Kinect) help it autonomously recognize and perform repetitive tasks, including folding towels and scooping dog poop, with great ease.

While the robot still lags slightly behind humans in efficiency -- by the time it sets down the chopsticks, flowers, and other accoutrements, the sushi isn't at its freshest -- its never-ending evolution indicates that a world full of robot servants eventually await us.

Check out more of Molly Wood's interview with Willow Garage CEO Steve Cousins and an amusing montage of clips involving the multitalented PR2 in this week's Always On Future Tech segment.

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