The technological world changes itself every minute. Digitalization conquered ourselves. We are almost robots as we almost can not imagine ourselves without useful devices. One-click and you are connected to the world’s information. Really helpful at work and not only. At home, we are playing games or reading using our devices as well. Moreover, we can visit any place from home. If you enjoy gambling you can test live in-play betting right from the kitchen instead of going to Macau. Technologies can help us with that. But what about our helpers?
Tech giants are heavily investing in robotics, factories are using machine labor, and smart devices from smart bulbs to thermostats are making their way into our lives. However, robots that could help us in everyday life will not appear soon.
The main difference between household robots and normal robots at factories is that they need to check the surface and keep information about the working space all the time. Such space is changed especially at home most of the time. Household robots will have to do most of the daily routine. Such a routine can be different from washing plates to carrying some furniture, repairing work, etc.
Such work can easily make the robot stop doing its work. What is easy for normal people can become a hard task for such a robot. As the robots have their algorithms they are working according to them. And it is almost impossible to make an algorithm about everything that can be changed anytime and any place.
To manipulate it, you need to perform two actions: control the object and feel it. Industrial manipulators, like those used on assembly lines, are equipped with tools designed only to perform certain tasks, such as lifting and carrying a specific part. They have a hard time manipulating irregularly shaped objects or stretchy materials, especially because they lack the power or tactile feedback that humans have.
A conveyor or train has an organized environment and a strictly defined sequence of tasks. This allows engineers to pre-program the robot’s movements or use simple methods such as QR codes to locate objects or target points.
However, household items are often randomly placed, and household chores have to deal with uncertainty on a regular basis.
First, you need to find and identify the target element among others. Often, you also need to remove or bypass other obstacles in the workspace in order to get to the desired element and complete the task.
In other words, such a robot must have an excellent perception system, effective navigation skills, be powerful enough, and at the same time accurately manipulate objects.
One Problem After Another
Many household chores seem easy to people, although they are too difficult for robots. Industrial jobs are great for repetitive tasks, but everyday jobs are often unique and full of surprises. Therefore, the work will need to constantly make decisions and change the route.
Think about cooking or washing dishes. In a few minutes, you will be able to grab a pot, a spatula, a stove handle, a refrigerator door handle, an egg, and a bottle of cooking oil. To wash the pan, we usually hold it with one hand, use the other hand to wash off the food residue with a sponge, and then rinse off all the soap.
In recent years, machine learning technologies have advanced significantly, expanding the capabilities of robots. However, even with the best algorithms, teaching a machine how to handle all types of kitchen tools and household appliances is an amazing task.
There is another factor – the stairs, narrow passages, and high shelves in the houses. These hard-to-reach places limit the use of today’s mobile robots, which typically use wheels or four legs.