In the US animated series The Jetsons, a family of the future employed the services of Rosie, a humanoid robotic maid who whizzed around on wheels, tidying up around the house. She was less a housekeeper and more a part of the family.
While we haven’t yet achieved this level of robotic help, inventors have developed quite a few robot helpers which, like Rosie, not only assist with household chores, but in some cases serve as robotic companions.
Robots range from iRobot’s Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, to Windoro, which cleans windows on two sides simultaneously and automatically, to the Toyota Human Support Robot, which can lend a helping hand -- literally -- by reaching for objects on high shelves.
Click on the photo below to see examples of available and conceptual household robots that can help ease the burden of work at home and can even provide companionship.
Colombian industrial design student Adrian Perez Zapata has designed Mab -- hundreds of small robots that fly around a house and clean soiled surfaces -- as a submission for the 2013 Electrolux Design Lab competition, the theme of which is “inspired urban living.” The system consists of a core central robotic hub and 908 microrobots that dispense cleaning solution. As envisioned by Zapata, Mab consists of a core mother ship robot that acts as the central controller for the system of 908 smaller bots sporting propellers that do the dirty work. Zapata’s design is one of 20 semifinalists in the competition, and his work is still just a concept. (Source: Electrolux Design Lab)
Nice slideshow, Elizabeth. The Rooba had a nice role in Breaking Bad. At one point the Roomba had sucked up some poisen. Thanks for including Rosie in the collection. She was the fiurst domestic robot.
Yes, I think I mention that scene in my caption of the Roomba photo, Rob. I loved "Breaking Bad," and the Roomba's appearance in it provided some dark humor and also showed how popular this robot is becoming in popular culture. And I couldn't do a slideshow like this without "Rosie." I loved "The Jetsons" as a kid.
Elizabeth, I'm glad you got Rosie in here. I'm a huge Breaking Bad fan as well. Since I live in Albuquerque, I recognize all of the location shots. Walter's house is about a mile from where I live. Saul's office is just a half a mile away.
I didn't realize you lived in Albuquerque, Rob. I identified alot with the show because I used to live in Phoenix, Arizona, so the whole southwest is familiar to me, as well as the unfortunate prevalence of crystal meth in the southwest. (There was always news of meth labs blowing up in the Phoenix area when I lived there.) That show must have really hit home with you, literally! Did you ever see them shooting? I'm such a fan geek, that would've been really cool. :)
I think the Mab robots are smaller than they appear, Chuck. And actually, that design won the contest! So I'm not the only person who thinks it's cool. :) You can see more details about that on the Electrolux website: http://electroluxdesignlab.com/en/
The spousal-unit and I really enjoyed our Roombas. They do have two, possibly three downsides.
1) Instead of doing something else, you find yourself watching the Roomba out of fascination.
2) You have to "Roomba proof" your rooms. All cords and curtain/shade strings have to be tucked out of the way so they don't get tangled in the sweeper.
3) I used to wonder why they did not turn off automatically and would instead stop and beep...until the Roomba scooted under the bed and had its way with the floor underneath. Then the light popped on that it may decide it is done under there and you wouldn't know where to look for it.
Unlike the shark costume wearing cat riding the Roomba, our cats were very wary of them. It was absolutely hysterical when one of the cats was peeking around a bookcase watching the Roomba, when the Roomba in one of its random walks turned and then seemed to deliberately head directly at the cat. ZOOM!! Off ran the cat.
We have a Roomba that sold as the pet owner's model. It requires what I consider a lot of maintenance. Before it is used the room has to be prepared. Anything on the floor except the furniture needs to be moved away. Between each use the brushes need to be combed, the debris bin emptied, and the filter cleaned. In addition, dog hair gets lodged everywhere and periodically all the nooks and crannies need cleaned. The motor and gearbox are not sealed and eventually dog hair and dirt cause the mechanism to freeze up. The gear box/motor assembly can be taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled if done very carefully. But this assembly, called the Cleaning Head, was not designed to be taken apart, it was designed to be removed and replaced for $50. Because of this, I consider the Roomba Robot as a geek's toy and not a serious home appliance. Most dog owners, including my wife, would be unable or disinclined to keep it operational for very long.
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Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
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