Countless sci-fi books, shows, and movies have promised that, one day, robots will do our dirty work for us. It's frustrating that we're still so far from that promised land of leisure, but we're making steady progress in certain areas.
Case in point: Researchers from UMass Amherst and UC Berkeley are teaching a robot how to do one of your most mundane chores—the laundry.
Boston.com reports that the scientists are very close to reaching their goal. So far, the robot can put dirty clothes in a laundry basket, bring the basket to a washer, load the washer, fold your clothes when they're done, and put them on hangers.
The researchers' machine is the product of a California-based lab called Willow Garage, which created the Personal Robot 2 (PR2) back in 2010. Though originally listed for $400,000, these days they're selling for the low, low price of around $120,000.
The ready availability of these robots has given other scientists the opportunity to teach them quite a few unique tasks. For example, PR2s have learned how to buy a sandwich from Subway and even shave a man's face.
But doing the laundry is still a work in progress. For now, the biggest stumbling block is that the PR2 can't get clothes out of the washer and transfer them to the dryer. IEEE Spectrum speculates that this has to do with the robot's poor vision and limited reach, which means it can't easily inside laundry machines or grab the clothes inside. Still, we'll take what we can get.
With robots doing our dishes, vacuuming our homes, and now washing our clothes, all we really need is for them to cook for us. In the meantime, though, I guess delivering a sandwich from Subway will have to do.