LG’s New RoboKing Vacuum Can Now Explain Its Failures

A handy new self-diagnostic mode helps LG’s Roboking keep you up to date on everything that’s going wrong with it

1 min read
LG’s New RoboKing Vacuum Can Now Explain Its Failures

LG’s RoboKing series of robot vacuums may or may not be variations on the Roomba theme to the extent that they’re not allowed to be sold here in the United States, where Roomba is the undisputed king (queen?) and reigns with a tight fist and lots of patents. But we have to give credit to LG for thinking outside the box disc when it comes to introducing nifty features. For example, unlike the Roomba, Mint, or Neato XV-11, the RoboKing navigates (and maps its environment) using a pair of cameras that scan the ceiling and the floor, which is a pretty neat trick:

The latest version of the RoboKing, announced just yesterday, adds a self-diagnostic mode where the robot actually checks itself out and tells you what’s up. Push the diagnostic button, and the robot will give itself a 30 second shakedown cruise and then report back (in a sultry female voice, no less) with the status of 14 different components. No word on just exactly what it’ll tell you, but I imagine something like, “that awful noise I’m making is because I just tried to eat one of your socks; please remove it before I explode.”

We don’t have too much else to go on at this point beyond that for those of you fortunate enough to live somewhere with less stringent patent enforcement, the LG RoboKing VR6172LM will be available soon for the equivalent of about $730.

Via [ Akihabara News ]

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How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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