We cover a lot of robots around here, and to be fair, not every one of them makes you think “yeah, I could totally use one of those around the house!” Well, I could totally use a PR2 around my house now that it can autonomously fold stuff. Not sure how I’d get it up the stairs, but anyway…
So far, UC Berkeley’s Pieter Abbeel has only taught his PR2 to fold towels and other rectangles, but the important thing is that the PR2 is entirely unfamiliar with the things that it has to fold. Just toss a pile of towels of various sizes on the table, and PR2 will pick up each item, inspect it, and figure out how it should be folded. The folding routine even ends with an adorable little pat ‘n smooth. You have to remember, too, that even though PR2 is quite an impressive robot, the capabilities are mostly in the software:
“The reliability and robustness of our algorithm enables for the first time a robot with general purpose manipulators to reliably and fully-autonomously fold previously unseen towels, demonstrating success on all 50 out of 50 single-towel trials as well as on a pile of 5 towels.”
50/50 on towel folding? Yeah, that would definitely be an upgrade in my house.
[ UC Berkeley Robot Learning Lab ] via [ Willow Garage @ Twitter ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.