If we’re lucky, robots might steal our chores before they steal our jobs. Next on the list could be ironing, now that a humanoid robot has mastered the art of getting rid of creases.
The robot, called TEO, is 1.8 metres tall and weighs about 80 kilograms. Since it came into being at the Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain, in 2012, TEO has learned to climb stairs and open doors. Now full-on domestication seems within its reach.
Once a human places an item of clothing on an ironing board in front of TEO, it uses a camera built into its head to create a hi-res 3D representation of the garment and the ironing board.
TEO then detects creases by computing a “wrinkliness local descriptor”. This means coming up with a number between 0 and 1 for each point on the garment, where 0 represents a sharp edge and 1 a flat spot. TEO knows that creases fit somewhere between these two extremes, as the only truly sharp edges are the boundaries of the ironing board.
After TEO has all the wrinkles in its sights, it slowly lowers the iron on to the garment, then executes an ironing trajectory calculated to smooth out each crease efficiently. Once that’s done, it runs through it again to “iteratively reduce the wrinkliness”, as its programmers put it.
“TEO is built to do what humans do as humans do it,” says team member Juan Victores at Carlos III University of Madrid. He and his colleagues want TEO to be able to tackle other domestic tasks, like helping out in the kitchen. Their ultimate goal is for TEO to be able to learn how to do a task just by watching people with no technical expertise carry it out.
“We will have robots like TEO in our homes. It’s just a matter of who does it first,” says Victores.
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On – 21 Jun, 2017 By timothy revell
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