The guys over at Willow Garage have already proved their PR2 to be a worthy weekend companion, teaching it to play billiards, fetch beer, and even to clean up after a party. A team of UC Berkeley researchers more interested in domestic applications for robotics has also shown that PR2 can be a handy household companion during the slower parts of the week, namely laundry day. Now, they’ve shown that if you give PR2 a sock it can employ its keen ability for repetitive hand motions to that other regularly recurring chore: pairing socks! (wait, what did you think we were talking about?).
Pairing socks, of course, is more challenging than simply folding a towel or some other plain-shaped textile. Presented with two socks, PR2 must first determine if each one is correctly oriented or if one or both are inside out. If so, it first makes the proper corrections so both socks are properly oriented. It then figures the proper points at which to grasp them and bunches the socks together.
The video below is sped up 15X, and even so you could probably do the job yourself much faster. Still, do you really want to? If not, keep in mind that PR2 goes on sale next month.