Tired of doing your laundry? Soon, Willow Garage's Personal Robot 2 (PR2) might be able to free you from that chore. The robot can now find, clean and fold clothes.
A group of artificial intelligence researchers led by Siddharth Srivastava, a scientist at the United Technologies Research Center, Berkeley, have programmed the robot to do the laundry without any specific knowledge of what or how many items it has to wash.
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Laundry is just another accomplishment on PR2's list. Over the years, the $280,000 robot has also learned how to fetch a beer, make a coffee run and clear a table, among other tasks.
Determining how to program robots to do the laundry remains particularly challenging for roboticists because current sensing and manipulating technology is not good enough to identify precisely the number of clothing pieces that are in a pile and the number that are picked up with each grasp.
"The widely imagined helper robots of the future are expected to clear the table, do laundry or perform day-to-day tasks with ease," Srivastava said in a press release. "Currently however, computing the required behavior for such tasks is a challenging problem - particularly when there's uncertainty in resource or object quantities."
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The new development opens the door for roboticists to address other situations in which artificially intelligent systems must act, despite some degree of uncertainty. These tasks can fall into the categories of manufacturing, search-and-rescue operations or even space exploration.
"It is exciting to see how this breakthrough builds upon NSF-funded efforts tackling a variety of basic-research problems including planning, uncertainty, and task repetition," Héctor Muñoz-Avila, program director at NSF's Robust Intelligence cluster, said in the press release.
Credit: Siddharth Srivastava via YouTube