Sunday, February 08, 2009

Taking Robotics to the Front of House

Japanese Firms Start Testing Robot-infrastructure Communication -- Tech-On!
Shimizu Corp and Yasukawa Electric Corp opened the "Smart Showroom" demonstration space as the first step of the "Smart Robotics Building" project, which involves the use of robot technologies in intelligent buildings.

The project is aimed at providing various services and comfortable living environment through combination of building infrastructure technologies and robot technologies. Robots will play the roles of receptionist, guide, delivery personnel, cleaners, guards, etc in place of humans. For example, they will approach visitors, attend to and take them to their destinations in the building.


Anonymous said...

I read an article on this. While it seems (the first stage) is primarily aimed at businesses, it will be interesting to see what they come up with for a “cleaning” robot. I own a couple of roombas and a scooba but I have a hard time recommended them to other people. The roombas do a decent job if you use them every other day but they certainly lack the power of a real vacuum (more like a carpet sweeper on steroids). Scooba works good but it’s a pretty manual process (have to fill it with water and cleaning solution, let it run, empty the dirty water, clean the unit and put it back on the charger).

LG has an interesting (but EXPENSIVE) robotic vacuum that we can’t get in the states.

A ‘bot with an interchangeable end effector like would be great for cleaning countertops, showers, even perhaps windows. I can’t imagine that it would be too hard to have a ‘bot scan an area to determine what to clean (and make sure its clear), then use an algorithm to move a tool over the area. Of course, I’m not an engineer. But I’d love to buy such a ‘bot.

Alistair said...

I agree 100%. What the Roomba and Scooba demonstrates is that there is plenty of demand at the right price. There is plenty of room to improve the two devices. I'm hoping the downturn doesn't stop the research, in fact those of us that are trying to keep our jobs are probably working harder than ever and need cleaning robots more than ever.
As for the algorithms, it quickly became clear that our little roomba friend did not hold a map of the area, and that it had more to do with randomness. We have to start somewhere, so I am trying not to be critical, but I think we are ready for the next generation now! Thanks for your insights.