Household Robots. According to former toy-making company WowWee’s marketing director Amy Weltman, robotics manufacturers have recently been turning to robots that do more than just entertain. "Consumers today think of robots as interactive toys, but people are coming to understand that a robot is something that can enhance the quality of life and make everyday functions easier," she says in a Forbes.com web article. The company, which started out selling toys like Robosapien and a robotic stuffed animal called Alive Lion Cub, has since shifted to producing more serious automatons like the Rovio, a three-wheeled surveillance robot with a built-in webcam, speakers and a microphone. Household robots are sometimes called "domestic robots."
As more people realize that yes, machines can do their chores for them, more and more household robots have been welcomed inside people’s homes. American company iRobot has reportedly sold more than 2 million units since its Roomba robotic vacuum debuted in 2002. The company now also sells new models like Scooba, a floor-washing robot, Looj, a gutter-cleaning robot and Dirt Dog, a garage-sweeping robot.
Other household robots that clean include the Karcher- RC3000 Robocleaner, which navigates and cleans all domestic floors even while the owner’s away. Once finished, it returns automatically to its base station, empties out its dust container into a paper filter bag and recharges its batteries all on its own. The Microbot-UBOT is a similar machine, except that it sweeps, vacuums and mops floors all at once. There’s also the Korean housebot ROMI, which can clean up via a voice-activated command system and can transmit videos to the owner’s PC or cell phone via a built-in WiFi/CDMA connection at the same time.
Household robots extend outside the homes, too. Robot mowers include the Robomow RL500 (complete with the highly enticing tagline, “It mows. You don’t.”) and the Automower. Both are fully automatic mowers powered by rechargeable batteries, quietly cutting up to 1000 square yeads of grass before needing to recharge. What’s more, they’re mulching mowers, which means they cut the grass into tiny pieces and drive them back into the lawn so the moisture and natural nutrients of grass is recycled. Talk about practical machines.
iRobot says that their company grew from a gut feeling and a big idea. They knew that domestic robots can make a difference in people’s lives and that this dream could be turned into a reality. Now many other robotic companies are coming out with even more practical and helpful bots like security guard robots that can detect and report intruders, and receptionist robots that can recognize faces and talk using a vocabulary of 10,000 words.
There is also the My Spoon robot, specially designed to help patients with motion impairment to eat their meals, the AIC-AI Chinese-cuisine cooking robot. Another especially intriguing robot is shaped like a pillow. It is called the Hug. It was developed to help improve the lives of the elderly. Designed to be both soft and firm, its torso-shape is complete with two arms reaching out, like a person about to give a hug. The Hug basically acts as a phone transmitter, opening a direct voice link between two people through its voice recognition software.
These helpful 'bots now even include cat litter cleaning robots. Some even sense that the cat has finished his business and then do the cleaning.
The future of robotics is exciting. Modern home robots are providing a welcome relief to the daily and often back-breaking job of cleaning and maintaining a home. Robot floor cleaners and robot mowers are free to come into my house and yard. After all, don’t we all need a little more time for quality time with friends and family and a lot less sweeping in our lives?