The Future of Robotic Housekeepers

Stolarz

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Ever since the beginning of the interest in robotics for "bettering humanity," every large technology and hardware company has tried their hand at the enormous task. Robots in today's world are seldom seen in public, so they remain an afterthought and are never portrayed as extreme switch-outs for otherwise human jobs. Here are some examples of the types of help we can expect sometime in the future, which will be magnitudes more apparent in our everyday lives:



  1. Housekeeper robots that are individually garnered to learn from the owners of the house regarding where, how, and when items should be organized.
  2. Kitchen robots that are localized to all aspects regarding any kitchen related tasks, from creating meals to reordering food and stocking the fridge, all the way to cleaning dishes and placing them back on the rack, resetting every day like clockwork.
  3. Cleaning robots that will be on a much smaller and modest scale, such as vacuum robots, floor-scrubbing robots, and disinfecting robots that can see their daily goals to be things such as cleaning around toilets and bathtubs, shower heads, grime off of walls, etc. Such tasks can be automated to happen either in the morning before everyone is awake, or only to take place when no one is home.
Our lives will be extremely different from what they are today. These robotic assistants will not be available to the general public right away, as with all technology - those who have more wealth to spend on such new-age electronics will see and understand these benefits first. However, as with all global technologies, it will become cheaper and one day turn into something as simple and "necessary" as an oven or dishwasher in today's world.

The technology industry is already seeing a mass representation of robots and their specific tasks. If you take a look at something that Toyota has been working on for the past 20 years, you can see that robotic ability is exponentially growing. Here is an excellent video that shows the inner workings of “PFN” (which uses HSRs (Human Support Robots) developed by Toyota Motor Corporation in this demonstration).


Here is some additional information from the YouTube video’s description:

“Using augmented reality (AR) technology can show what the robot is thinking. You can see a visual display of information on how it recognizes objects in the room and what kind of action it is planning to take next. By looking at this AR screen, we can intuitively assess the status of the robot. This allows us to give clearer instructions.”

Now, one can always put on the skeptic’s shoes and ask, “how do we know this isn’t preprogrammed?”. With today’s knowledge of complex data sets that use deep learning, Augmented Reality tracking, and easily recognizable voice and gesture tracking, there would be no reason to show something so intricate and base it on “pre-programmed commands” that were available back in 2008. The sum of our technological capabilities and streamlined interactions between different input and output forms can bring us all to begin the process of believing what we see, especially when the tasks being performed are becoming more commonplace. In a few generations, these amalgamations of robots doing chores, even at these complex levels, will seem outdated and overly complicated.

Currently, these robots seem like the next generation of technology that will see massive use in society’s homes relatively soon. While this is correct, we must also recognize all the problems and hurdles these companies still have ahead of them. These robotic assistants still require a massive amount of “babysitting” – making sure that commands are understood entirely, preventing any room for misguided actions that can potentially “make or break” an experience for a first-time user, as well as the safety, security, and usefulness factor. These areas are critical and need to be somewhat “perfect” before they see any use in an average household.

I’m sure that those under the age of 70, possibly 80, will get to experience the pleasures of these friendly machines and companions within their lifetimes. With technology advancing on an exponential curve, our world will continue to expand beyond our wildest imaginations. This is just the beginning.
 
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