Domestic robots are on the move. Mostly these are autonomous devices that are capable of carrying out a range of domestic tasks such a cleaning the floors and mowing your lawns. Others are capable of more complex activities such as proving home entertainment and taking care of the home.
Robotic vacuum cleaners
While for a minority of people, vacuuming their living space is therapeutic, it is one of those tasks that most people don’t enjoy spending their time on. Today there is a wide range of robotic vacuum cleaners that take all the hassle out of vacuuming and can often do a better job than the conventional approach.
Key to modern advances robotic vacuum cleaners is the wide range of smart sensors they use for tasks such as automatically detecting dirt; navigating round obstacles and underneath furniture such as tables, chairs, and sofas; and vacuuming corners and along skirting boards and walls. Other models can automatically create a map of the layout of your home, painstakingly navigating their way round each room to build a virtual map of the layout.
Many models, such as the Roomba, are equipped with Wi-Fi and can be controlled from your smartphone. They are also highly programmable so you can choose different cleaning preferences for each room in your home. While they have sensors that prevent them from falling over ledges such as the top of your stairs, they are not capable of climbing and cleaning stairs, though that may be possible in the future.
Relaxing and basking in the balmy summer weather while a robot mows your lawn is the dream of many a leisure gardener. Of course, some people enjoy mowing the lawn themselves and would never outsource the procedure to a robot, but for those of us who would, the good news is that modern robotic lawnmowers do a great job on just about any size of lawn.
Typically these mowers cut the grass blades to produce a mulch that provides the lawn with a natural fertiliser and means you don’t have to spend time collecting and disposing of the grass cuttings. And, when the battery gets low, the mower will trundle back to the power supply, plug itself and automatically recharge.
You don’t need to spend a fortune either. For instance, Robomow produces a wide range of robotic lawnmowers with prices ranging from around £500 up to £2,800 with top end models capable of mowing large lawns with several sub-zones and separated zones. There are many other brands available with similar price points.
A recent example of a new kind of home-keeper robot, “Kuri” is capable of a wide range of tasks. For instance, it can look after your home when you are out and alert you to any visitors either welcome or unwelcome, tell you when your children arrive home, provide musical entertainment and more.
It is sensitive to touch and responds to a pat on the head; it has a video camera which can record video and stills while keeping an eye on your home when you are out; it can blink and smile and react to your voice; it can also recognise and respond to individual faces.
Other examples are the LG Hub Robot, primarily a smart home controller that incorporates Amazon Alexa but is also capable of recognising family members; and the “Ubtech Lynx,” a humanoid home robot that can walk round your home and carry out simple tasks while providing security when you are away.
If you would like a pet but don’t want all the associated hassle, then probably the best robotic pet so far is the latest version of the “Sony Aibo” now equipped with more advanced AI. Launched at CES 2018 it proved a real attention grabber. Equipped with multiple touch sensors and 22 actuators, it’s movements are quite realistic, and it can even recognise individual family members.