Housekeeping Robots Easy To Imagine, Tough To Make

Robert Heinlein knew just what we wanted in 1956 - a housekeeping robot able to do really any handy task that a person could do:

Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? Answer: any work a human being does around a house. He didn't have to play cards, make love, eat or sleep, but he did have to clean up after the card game, cook, make beds...
(Read more about Flexible Frank)

Regrettably, it is much easier to imagine one than it is to make one.


(We want Flexible Frank!)

“Cleaning is different from other tasks we’ve thought about in robotics, which [have] typically involved manipulating objects, or moving them place to place,” says Maya Cakmak, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. Last year, she earned a three-year, $400,000 grant from the National Robotics Initiative, within the National Science Foundation, to research a cleaning robot.

She points out that getting a robot to clean would require much more than simply getting it to hold a tool to some surface. “There’s the angle, how much you’re pushing and pressure you’re applying, how fast you move it, how much you move it, and even the orientation [of the tool] relative to the dirt.” A robot would also have to adjust to the curvature on a tiled countertop versus a flat floor, and properly choose the right tool for the particular kind of mess: a sponge to absorb spilled juice, a feather duster on shelves, and a stiff brush to loosen soap scum from the shower.

Cakmak is trying to make such things possible. To train robots in her lab, she uses a technique called “programming by demonstration”: The machines learn by imitating a researcher who shows a cleaning technique for the robot’s vision system. Nearing the end of the first year of her three-year grant, Cakmak and her grad students are running a robot through many different training sessions with colored aquarium crystals as “test dirt,” using a variety of cleaning attachments, from a broom to a feather duster. She wants to get the robot to generalize the cleaning motion from the human demonstration, and also correctly identify the “state of dirt” before and after the cleaning action.

Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/7/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?' - Alice W. Fuller, 1895.

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. ' - Frank Herbert, 1977.

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....' Philip K. Dick, 1968.

I Can't Resist Worm Robots
'Seen close it was not completely flexible...' - Harry Harrison, 1962.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'

Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'

Fabric Automatically Cools Or Insulates Based On Environment
'...a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system.'

Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

John Deere Self-Driving Tractor
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'

Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.'

Ionocraft Drone Powered By Electrohydrodynamic Thrust
'He saw one hiss by him as he rounded the corner, trailing a short whip antenna...'

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.