This Robot Irons Clothes So You Don’t Have To

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    What’s better than a robot that folds your clean clothes? A robot that irons them first.

    Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid have built an android that presses garments, so you don’t have to.

    “An increasing demand exists for robots to be capable of assisting people with everyday domestic chores,” according to a recently published paper.

    Certain duties, however, tend to be more complex.

    “The ironing task is a particularly salient example,” the scientists said. “If performed incorrectly, it can induce even more wrinkles.”

    Enter TEO: Standing nearly six feet tall and weighing more than 175 lbs, the humanoid machine, created in 2012, can climb stairs and open doors. Next stop: full domestication.

    The electronic steward is equipped with a built-in camera, which creates a high-resolution 3D representation of the apparel laid in front of it, New Scientist reported.

    Using a “wrinkliness local descriptor”—i.e. determining a number between zero and one for each inch of the garment, where zero is a sharp edge, and one is a flat spot. TEO’s algorithm teaches it that creases fall somewhere between the two extremes.

    Based on experiments, analysts are confident in the technology, boasting that their algorithm can successfully detect wrinkles and “iteratively reduce the wrinkleness” of any garment—without special illumination or the need to input any information.

    The process is not entirely autonomous—yet. TEO still requires a human assistant to place an item of clothing onto the ironing board. But that’s a small price to pay for the comfort of someone something else doing the housework.

    “TEO is built to do what humans do as humans do it,” UC3M researcher Juan Victores told New Scientist.

    The team plans to tackle other domestic tasks, like assisting in the kitchen, and ultimately want TEO to advance to a point where it can learn tasks just by watching other people complete them.

    “We will have robots like TEO in our homes,” Victores said. “It’s just a matter of who does it first.”

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