The BBC has a future looking article that predicts that robots and TV
will be big in 2006! Robotic vacuums are already big, but the The
American-based Consumer Electronic Association predicts that domestic
robots will control home networks, sort laundry and scrub the kitchen
floor and are likely to be sold in much the same way as other household
appliances. The CEA also said that household robotics won't be mass
marketed until the prices drop to that of other labor-saving appliances
and are proved to be reliable and effective. Oh yeah, and they talked
about TV and some other stuff too.
Thanks for pointing out that article. I think that it is a prime
example of irresponsible hype in the media about robotics.
I followed the links and read the CEA chapter on robotics.
Yes, robotics is definitely a consumer technology to watch, but the
BBC employees did not appear to actually read the report before
writing the "Robotics big in 2006" headlines.
The CEA surveyed consumers (not robotics experts or even engineers),
57% of whom thought that they would be purchasing a domestic robot in
the next 10 years.
The CEA report also listed the 10 most disliked household chores, but
the author of the CEA report went on to suggest that robots would soon
be up to tasks such as sorting laundry. Clearly the author was not
thought through technical hurdles such as:
1. Perception - identifying 3D grasp locations for of a jumble of
clothes, reading washing instruction tags, determining if garments
(such as socks) are inside-out, recognition of stains that require
special pre-treatment, ...
2. Manipulation/Planning - Grasping and arranging non-rigid fabrics,
turning clothes inside out, balancing the washing machine load...
I also feel that the CEA report was very misleading about the
capabilities of ASIMO - all of the demonstrated "skills" that they
list are only function in such constrained circumstances that they are
I think that there are many promising areas for near-term applications
of roboitics, such as smart automobiles, aerospace, and military
systems. I suspect that general household applications are much