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Domestic Robots.

By priestess in Technology
Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 12:41:24 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

We've all been reading stories about the impending advances in robotics leading to eventual "Robot Butlers" for years. Now New Scientist Jumps on the bandwagon with a selection of articles detailing the domestic robots which are already on the market, or those which should be quite soon.

New scientist say "They're mobile, they're autonomous and they're right outside your door. After years of hype and crushing failure, robots are ready to start serving us in our homes. You can already buy one to mow your lawn. Vacuuming and polishing are next."

Before going on to detail and interview the people behind such projects as the Eurekaco Robot Vac and it's competetor Dyson's DC06.

More complicated than these simple autonomous vacuum cleaners are the Gecko Systems Carebot--a base platform to build all kinds of functions on, available to beta-testers now--and the Probotics Cye which comes complete with drinks tray and webcam to records it's vacum cleaning antics.

If these robot's don't tickle your paranoid fantasys of being mutilated in your sleep by rotating robotic blades, why not order a Friendly Robotics Robomow which will run around your garden cutting the grass and giving the pets nightmares? Alternatively, the Husqvarna AutoMower does much the same thing.

As I said, people have been predicting the comming of the Robots for quite some time, but all these products are either already available or are promised very soon. How long can it be before C3PO is walking around my living room asking me if I need a beer to go with that television meal? What other kinds of robots do you think we'll be seeing soon?


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What would YOUR ideal robot do for you?
o Vacum the carpet 26%
o Mow the Lawn 9%
o Serve Drinks 16%
o Clean the Pool 3%
o Translate for R2D2 8%
o Where's LoverBot? 36%

Votes: 61
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o New Scientist
o articles
o Eurekaco Robot Vac
o Dyson's DC06
o Gecko Systems Carebot
o Probotics Cye
o Friendly Robotics Robomow
o Husqvarna AutoMower
o Also by priestess

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Domestic Robots. | 9 comments (8 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
I knew this would happen... (4.00 / 3) (#1)
by theboz on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:39:08 AM EST

I figured it was only a matter of time before we got domestic robots. With men and women both working to support the increasing cost of living we need to have ways to make life easier outside of work.

However, I fear that this technology will be abused and we will get something like this.


reminds me of a classic SciFi short (none / 0) (#2)
by h2odragon on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:48:03 AM EST

Helen O'Loy by Lester del Rey.

[ Parent ]
Catch-22. (none / 0) (#9)
by aphrael on Mon Feb 12, 2001 at 10:33:49 PM EST

So you buy these things designed to make life easier outside of work, but that of course increases the cost of living, which means you need to work more ...

[ Parent ]
Robotic mowers may be all the rage (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:55:54 AM EST

I saw the Friendly Robotics robo-mower a year ago on Slashdot. I looked into it, but it was too expensive and hard to setup. (The safety features looked pretty good.) Besides, I was in an apt with no yard to mow.

But with a new house, I need to buy a mower. I want electric (to reduce the noise and hassle)--but I definitely DON'T want a cord. It suddenly occurred to me to search for a solar-powered lawnmower. A search on Google turned up the Husqvarna item. It's solar AND robotic. It's also pretty creepy looking (imagine a human-sized cockroach creeping around your lawn). On the plus side is the tagline "Put it on the lawn in the spring, put it in the garage in the fall. That's it."

Then I looked at Toro's website (for those that don't know, Toro is a big name in lawn equipment--they're not some mowing startup). They have a robotic mower, too. It's not solar and it looks EXACTLY like the Friendly Robotics mower (licensing deal?). And it's call the iMow.

Robotic mowers are a great idea, but probably not practical for now. For instance, the FR item requires the installation of the invisible fence (to define the mowable area). You have to do all the tight corners yourself and the mower can only go for about an hour before it needs to recharge. The Husqvarna is even worse: all the downsides of the FR mower PLUS it's much slower.

My guess is that a robotic mower could probably mow 90% of the average lawn. But a fully generalized automatic mower probably requires human level intelligence. For mowing this isn't so bad--any tedious walking back and forth the machine does is boredom I don't have to endure. In a drink mixer or (worse) a car-driver, this "good enough" type solution is no good at all.

Play 囲碁
Damn Robots! (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by Electric Angst on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 11:11:38 AM EST

Hrm... Let's see.

I live in an apartment, so I don't have a lawn for a robot to mow...

My apartment has concrete floors, so there'd be no need of a robot vacume. (and a pool is right out...)

I'm a bartender, so any robot that serves drinks could potentially put me out of buisness...

I think I don't really have anything positive to say at all about these machines.

"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
Tiny Robots (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by lmnop on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 11:40:34 AM EST

Tiny, self-replicating robots are far more interesting and scary than big, hulking robot-mowers.

http://www.foresight.org/ is a good starting point. You can also search for nanotechnology at Google.


"If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
Company I work for sells the mowers... (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by dragondm on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 01:11:56 PM EST

The company I work for actually sells the RoboMow. (I remember it coz' at ~$800 it's the most expensive thing on our website) Alas, I haven't had the chance to see one of th' buggers close up. It's not a very "bright" device, it just wanders around, detecting obsticles w/ a rubber bumper-switch, and boundaries defined by a buried wire. I'd kindof worry about it running over a rake or somesuch that wouldn't hit it's bumper switch.

Personally, what these things need is a memory, so you can use them to manually mow the lawn once, then repeat the action, and probably a some better sensory gear (to avoid the rake problem). The first of those is easy (and might come out soon, after all we've been selling the RoboMow fer a year, and I don't know how long it's been around before that.). The second of those however... Is hard.

Machine Learning (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by jynx on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 08:35:44 AM EST

There are some very nice Machine Learning algorithms which could be applied to this kind of problem. A Q Learner could learn the shape of the lawn, where there are obstacles in which could get it stuck, even where the grass grows fastest.

Equipped with decent sensors this could result in a very intelligent mower.


[ Parent ]

Domestic Robots. | 9 comments (8 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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