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 ")

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Multi-Robot Farming On Highly Sloped Land
High Plains, indeed.

Aeolus Robot Brings Jetson's Rosie Closer
Domestic duties, robotically performed.

Sony's New, Cuter Aibo Robot Puppy
Engineered to be adorable.

 

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

A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'

Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'

Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'

Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'

Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'

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.