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If you had a robot at your beck and call, what household task would you have it do?
It's amazing how much effort humans have put into avoiding work, at least dirty work. Countless hours of time have gone into developing machines and robots that do our work for us.
Roombas now clean the floors and LawnBotts mow the lawn -- perhaps not always perfectly but at least as well as some reluctant teens. There's the Verro to clean the pool, Scooba to wash the floors and Looj to clean the gutters.
Many of those devices are now comparatively mainstream, and while by no means cheap, not solely within the reach of millionaires. But out on the near horizon are robots more like the "Jetsons" maid Rosie: The Readybot and PR2 robot, from Willow Garage, both can load a dishwasher, and yes, scrape the plates first. Robots can be programmed to pick up clutter and deposit it in a designated location, set the table, polish the furniture, water plants and even deploy the remote-controlled vacuum. (Anyone else have visions of bad '60s sci fi movies with robots controlling machines?) Another model in the works, an ARMAR-II, reportedly can tell the difference between beer and cola so it knows which one to fetch.
After watching a video of the Readybot in action www.youtube.com/watch, I thought how handy it could be for the elderly, although in many cases, maid service might be cheaper. (Readybot is still a prototype, but its developers say they're aiming to make it affordable. PR2 is in production, but with a six-figure price point aimed more at manufacturing uses.)
I have yet to join the robotic revolution, and I should probably just reprogram my cleaning habits instead. After all, if I had a robot, that would blow my theory that all that house and yard work is at least good exercise. Plus, there's satisfaction gained from crossing a really nasty task off your to-do list. "Run robot" just isn't the same.
Still, it's fun to daydream about what icky jobs a household robot could take off the to-do list. What task would you have your "Rosie" tackle?
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