Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Israel's helping hand: Israeli company invents robots to do your chores

Ok, so this isn't really a humanitarian thing (unless you are really dangerously lazy), but it definitely constitutes a 'helping hand'.
Slobs and housework-haters rejoice: If one company has its way, in the near future there will be robots to set the dinner table, clear it after dinner, shovel snow and mop the floor. In short, the robots will "move in and around the home, doing the mundane tasks that people don't like to do anymore," Friendly Robotics Chief Executive Officer Udi Peless told United Press International in a telephone interview. For its part, the Pardesiya, Israel-based company has already developed a lawnmower robot, the Robomow, and a vacuum-cleaner robot, the Friendly Vac. The other innovations are as close as five to 10 years down the road, Peless said, although he added that one of his company's competitors has already developed a robot to mop the floor. The Robomow barrels around the yard randomly, guided to stay on the lawn by a cable the user must install around the perimeter of his yard, similar to an invisible fence for dogs. At a hi-tech exhibition in Tel Aviv curious onlookers who wandered onto the demonstration patch of turf often had to jump out of Robomow's way. When the device does make contact with something, like a tree in the middle of the lawn, it backs up and changes direction. This may not be the machine for people who love neat stripes. Luckily, the newer Friendly Vac doesn't careen into furniture the way the Robomow bumps into obstacles. "Inside the home, it's done differently, to avoid contact," Peless said. The vacuum cleaner "senses furniture from a distance of half a meter." It also senses walls, meaning the Friendly Vac doesn't require a cable installment like Robomow.

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