Household robots? Sooner than you think

July 25th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

By Saurabh Yadav
New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) As tech companies around the world - and in India - develop smarter robots, it is only a matter of time before the big three of housework - vacuuming/cleaning, dishwashing and cooking - are done successfully by robots, thus liberating urban households from dependence on the almighty housemaid. Japanese auto giant Toyota has announced that it intends to start selling next-generation household robots by 2010 and the South Korean government has said that it aims at having a robot in each home by 2013.

Vacuuming and floor cleaning is already being done successfully by a number of robots. The most popular of these are the world’s most widespread household robots - US-based iRobot’s Roomba series of robots. More than three million of these have been sold so far and the Roomba has truly heralded the era of household robots.

Roomba moves around the house without any human help or supervision, avoids obstacles and vacuums the floor. It can also recharge itself by reaching the power outlet and plugging itself in.

Recent robot models launched by iRobot can wash and scrub floor and are smart enough to avoid carpets. These can also pick up and collect objects lying around on the floor.

Gridbots, an Ahmedabad-based Indian robotics company, has also announced plans for launching an autonomous house cleaning and surveillance robot in India next year.

“We plan to launch autoGRID, an autonomous cleaning robot, in early 2009,” Gridbots founder and CTO Pulkit Gaur told IANS.

A majority of house chores involve the kitchen. Readybot, a club of engineers in Silicon Valley, has developed a kitchen-cleaning robot that can recognise and handle kitchenware, carry out several mundane kitchen-cleaning tasks, such as cleaning the counters and even load and operate the dishwasher.

Its developers expect it to be market-ready in as little as two years and do up to 80 percent of everyday kitchen cleaning.

Cooking is perhaps the final frontier that household robots would have to conquer because of the complexity of the tasks involved.

Chinese scientists at Shenzhen-based Fanxing Science and Technology have developed a cooking robot named AIC-AI that is able to do steaming, baking, frying, boiling and saut

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