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 ")

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.' - Greg Bear, 2015

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.' - Chubby Checker, 1961

 

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

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

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.