Team: 05-0002

Introduction | The Past | The Present | The Future | Bibliography









The Present

Today, robotic components fill our homes. Many Robots entertain children, some help with the household, and others even guard our houses. The function of the modern home relies completely on the help of robotics. The following are examples of robots in today's world.

The Hug[12]

Robotics researchers in Pittsburgh have designed a soft, huggable, robotic pillow that uses sensing and wireless phone technology to provide a physical touch. The pillow, called the Hug, was developed after the researchers studied how robotics could improve products the elderly use every day. The Hug, which is about the size of a throw pillow but as firm as a seat cushion, is shaped like a person about to give a hug, with two arms reaching up and out. The outside is covered in velour, making it soft and comfortable.
To send a hug, a person would squeeze the left paw of his/her device and speak another person’s name into a microphone in the top of the pillow. Voice recognition software in the processor in the device identifies the name and matches it to a preset phone number corresponding to the other Hug. That person’s Hug calls the other person’s, which lights up and plays sounds. To accept the hug, he/she squeezes the left paw and says hello, opening a direct voice link between the two people. The hug is ended by pressing the right paw and saying goodbye.
If someone is not home to receive a hug, the other person can leave a message that includes voice and vibration patterns. The Hug can store up to four messages.
Unlike a regular phone, for which wrong numbers are a way of life, there is no need to fear getting a hug in error. Each person you would want to hug has to be added to your network, much like a cell phone is programmed with personalized rings. (12)

The Roomba[2]

The Roomba is a housecleaning robot built by iRobot. It was the first robot ever built that is designed to live in your home, do something useful, and be priced for the mass market. The Roomba is designed to vacuum a room without any help from a human or any other robot. The Roomba is controlled by heuristics that map the size of the room and the obstacles in its path. The Roomba roams around the room and lightly bumps into other household objects.
Because of the Roomba’s circular shape, it cannot reach corners of the room, and leaves a little dirt in those corners. Also, if the couch, bed, or other piece of furniture is high enough, it has the possibility of getting stuck under it. After the Roomba covers the room many times, it beeps and shuts down. The Roomba costs $199, which is about the price of a mid-range vacuum cleaner. It is 5lb and 10oz, has limited vision, and is only 13.5 inches wide.
There are hopes that one day Roomba will do for vacuuming what dishwashers did for dishwashing.[2]


The Automower is made by Husqvarna and is designed to save time and make life easier. It can handle up to 1,800 square meters. Once the boundaries of a lawn are set with a perimeter wire system, Automower can be trusted to wander off on its own continuously mowing rain or shine, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, recharging itself as needed. The Automower cuts the grass neatly and fertilizes as it mows because short clippings drops back onto the lawn. The Automower is safe to leave running around animals because it can sense the objects and animals around it. The Automower can be programmed to run continuously or during certain hours of the day. Automowers use about the same amount of electricity as a 15-watt light bulb, and is quieter than the typical volume of a television. The Automower weights 15.6 lbs (7.1 kg), has a length of 28 inches (710mm), has a width of 23.6 inches (660mm), and has a height of 10.2 inches (260 mm). Automower is a bit pricey, costing $1,500 to $2,000.
If the Automower runs for sixteen hours, it spends half of that time recharging. The Automower occasionally has trouble with steep hills, but can usually pick itself up fairly quickly. With the Automower, no one has to worry about mowing the grass anymore.


The Wakamaru is the first human-size robot that can provide companionship, or function as a caretaker and house sitter. The Wakamaru was created in Japan, and will be for sale there for about one million yen ($14,250). The Wakamaru moves around on wheels, is 3.3 feet tall, weighs 60 pounds, and recharges itself when batteries run low.
The Wakamaru can be programmed to call or e-mail a designated person, hospital, or security firm if it notices a problem. It features continuous access to the Internet, and is equipped with voice and face recognition capabilities that allow the robot to search for and follow faces and movement. It has the ability to comprehend and interact with humans, and also comes with a built-in-dictionary, making it able to recognize 10,000 words.
The Wakamaru promises to be an ideal help for elderly people, the disabled, or others that are living independently.[4]

My Spoon, and the Internation Robot Convention[14]

The robot, My Spoon, is one that can help feeding disabled people. This robot helps around the house and comes in handy when there are disabled family members. This robot debuted in the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. Some other robots included a robot that imitates a butler. It can pour out wine and talk to guests. Even another robot was one that delivered meals to hospital patients.



There are many challenges that face researchers trying to build intelligent household robots. Among these are[1]:

1. It is very difficult to build a robot capable of navigating the contantly changing terrain of a house.

2. Supplying power to the robot can be challenging.

3. The current state of AI makes robot behavior unreliable.

4. Safety issues, robots that are capable of heavy lifting and other tasks can be a danger to people in their home.

5. Machines built to overcome obstacles 1-4 can become extremely expensive and out of reach of the common consumer.

We believe the future of household robotics lies in our MAID System.

Introduction | The Past | The Present | The Future | Bibliography