This laundry-folding robot may not find many fans at the local laundromat, but only because it takes so long in holding up each towel for scrutiny before folding. Still, its fussiness speaks to a special care for laundry -- or painstaking programming routines -- that has won our hearts. You see, folding isn't a chore for this robot. It's an art.
The special PR2 bot is the result of a collaboration between University of California-Berkeley researchers and the gadget guys at Willow Garage. A first video shows the robot very carefully inspecting and then folding a pile of five unfamiliar towels of various sizes on a table, sped up 50 times.
The next video ups the stakes for PR2 and gives it a rumpled towel placed in an "unusually challenging initial configuration." But that doesn't faze the tireless robot laborer.
The robot can only work its folding magic on rectangular-shaped cloth for now, so your unmentionables are safe from its scrutiny. We look forward to seeing PR2 work its slow-mo magic on a messy preteen's room in the near future.
wow hes a slow worker , your fired !
Yeah, Rosie's great-great-great-grandma is a bit slow, but with better programming I'm sure she'll be in every American home in say about 100 years or so.
wow people cant grow or cook there own food and now they cant clean the future of the movie wall-e is coming closer each day.
I'd love to buy one of these and other Jetsons-like robots.
I do love my Wall-E...
Yeah i liked that movie to.
@steve28 - Didn't you hear? The robots are a union now. You can't fire him...
Seems like a simple task to us, but we have a tremendous amount of sensory and computational power to bring to bear at all times, unless we haven't gotten enough sleep or something.
It looks like PR2 is getting by without touch sense. I wonder if it has stereoscopic 3D vision. All those rotations would seem to indicate extended analysis of 2D imagery.
@rpenri: It won't take 100 years; the speed will nearly double every two years. In 10 years it will be fast enough for commercial purposes; in 15, fast enough for homes.
@taking: How would you rather spend part of your life: hiking through a forest, playing (or listening to) music with friends, folding laundry, or washing dishes?
You will find that robots such as this one (and Asimo) will become commonplace for menial tasks. Not through laziness but through the desire to have more time to spend in other ways.
Also, not everybody has the ability to fold laundry (missing hands, Parkinson's disease, paralysis, and such).
I know I'd sure like a robot that could fold laundry. The speed isn't really all that important as long as the folding gets done. I'd rather be reading slashdot while the laundry gets folded.
There is, however, one little problem with this guy that hasn't been mentioned yet - it is using the wrong folding algorithm for a towel that will eventually be hung up. A towel should be folded lengthwise first otherwise when it gets pulled from the closet (or wherever towels are kept), it has to be refolded in order to hand on the towel rack properly. Having the towels folded incorrectly would keep me from spending the money to buy it.
When it moves onto larger towels, I think the need for a different approach will become obvious unless it's arm span is increases.