Most people find laundry sorting and folding a boring and uninteresting activity. For decades, robotics professionals have been trying to make people’s lives easier and create an autonomous system to do this work. So far, programming a robot to perform this activity has been a huge challenge for scientists.
It seems that the efforts of scientists have finally yielded serious results. Siddharth Srivastava, Abhishek Gupta, Pieter Abbeel, Stuart Russell, and Shlomo Zilberstein of the University of Massachusetts at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence presented a robot capable of folding laundry without specific knowledge about them.
Sorting and folding laundry is one example of daily tasks that we do without thinking. However, this task is extremely difficult for automated machines.
One of the biggest challenges in programming robotic laundry is that linen is a deformable object, says researcher P. Abbeel. Clothes or towels look one way hung in a closet and otherwise in a pile of laundry.
Srivastava, one of the system’s creators, says most people expect future robots to clean their desk, sort laundry, and do other day-to-day tasks, but so far, programming this behavior presents many challenges. The researcher says the biggest difficulty is that the amount of laundry is not exactly clear when doing the laundry. Professor Sh. For this reason, Zilberstein emphasizes that the most important and difficult part of the system is to create what we call master plans – plans that work in many different situations, even without accurate information.
Scientists have used human behavior – pulling, stuffing, folding and gathering – as a template for robot behavior, and have applied certain aspects of human problem-solving that we apply in less-than-explicit situations. The scientists programmed a previously developed robot, PR2, to do the laundry. The PR2 robot was designed by Willow Garage engineers.
So far, the PR2 robot has been able to do all kinds of work. For example, engineers at Willow Garage programmed it to bring beer. All you have to do is select the type of beer you want through a special program. The robot goes to the fridge, opens it, and uses the camera to record what kind of beer it contains. After taking the beer from the fridge, the robot brings it and gives it to the person who ordered it, using the camera and face recognition technology. The robot can even open a beer using a regular opener.
From now on, the PR2 is capable of doing the laundry without knowing exactly how many clothes will be washed and what type. Unfortunately, the PR2 robot cannot distinguish between clean clothes and dirty work, and it does its job quite slowly. Nor is it flexible enough to reach the ground and lift a dropped garment, or to remove clothes from a washing machine. Nevertheless, it is perfectly capable of putting laundry in a basket, putting it in the washing machine, and folded neatly after washing.
This robot is an extremely useful and time-saving invention. The system developed can also be applied in a variety of areas where not all conditions are known in advance. For example, such robots can be adapted to work in factories or in space exploration, search and rescue operations.