Laundroid is no faster, based on a demonstration at the 2015 CEATEC consumer electronics show, which took place almost exactly one year ago in Tokyo. It’s the result of a collaboration between Daiwa House, Panasonic, and Seven Dreamers, and while it’s a great concept (in theory), it took several minutes for the robot — hidden inside a futuristic-looking black cabinet — to fold up a freshly washed T-shirt, according to Engadget. Although it did the task decently, if not in Martha Stewart-approved style, it’s obviously not ready to take on a basket full of jeans and sheets.
All the same, it’s not your time the bot is wasting, and you’re still saving yourself time by not having to fold your laundry yourself, so we won’t blame you if you get in line to be one of the first owners of Laundroid when pre-orders begin in March 2017. While the bot will initially be offered exclusively in Japan, a “limited number” are expected to go on sale in the United States at a later date as well.
The Laundroid isn’t the only machine of its kind, and indeed, there’s a homegrown American version as well. Researchers at University of California, Berkeley have made a laundry bot using Willow Garage’s $280,000 Personal Robot 2, though it’s no quicker at the task at hand than the Japanese version. This is because clothing and towels are “deformable objects,” meaning their shapes differ depending on how it’s bunched up. A glass always looks the same, but a shirt has many different forms. Because these items aren’t folded in the same way, the bot first needs to determine what it is.
“The challenges posed by robotic towel-folding reflect important challenges inherent in robotic perception and manipulation for deformable objects,” assistant professor Pieter Abbeel tells UC Berkeley News Center. The Laundroid is having particular trouble with socks, apparently.
One difference between UC Berkeley’s robot and the Laundroid is that the latter is a stationary object, whereas the former is mobile and can also fetch you a beer. The Robot 2 is also further away from coming to a retailer near you, so even though it takes the Laundroid seven hours to fold an entire basket of clothes, it still currently has the advantage of the more Rosie-esque robot.
Engineers at Tokyo-based company Seven Dreamers started developing a laundry-folding robot called Laundroid in 2005, and now, there is finally a robot to show off at CES 2018.
We haven’t seen it in person yet, but we spoke with Seven Dreamers CEO Shin Sakane for a preview. The idea is: You drop clean, dry clothes into a box in a pretty home appliance, and then several hours later you can collect the folded, sorted items.
Soft material like clothing is one of the hardest problems for AI even now,” Sakane says. “Laundry folding seems like an easy task but it’s actually very hard, so that’s why no one has ever done it before.”
Washing machines and dryers treat each item of clothing the same, but folding requires the appliance to identify garments and be able to physically fold them. Folding a towel is more complicated than it seems, and socks are currently impossible.
Sakane explains, “Sock pairings is one of the most difficult tasks, because even the latest AI we’ve developed is very hard to distinguish between, for example, dark navy-blue socks and black socks. Or almost the same black color but different textures, or the worst one is when it’s the right pair but one sock shrunk.”
To tackle the tedious task of folding laundry, Laundroid consists of three technologies: Image analysis, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Even though there are multiple robot arms that fold the clothes, they are hidden inside a box that is styled like Italian luxury furniture, made of leather, wood, and glass. The materials are purposefully luxurious since the price point — starting at $16,000 for the base model — is much higher than most home appliances.
It is expensive, but we are lazy, home robots are exciting, and laundry never ends. Sakane says, “You can load up to 30 clean dry clothes and press the button, wait a few hours and then you’ll see folded laundry sorted into either clothing categories or family members.
It seems like someone who can afford an unnecessary $16,000 home appliance probably isn’t doing their own laundry anyway, but Sakane says that nearly 500 people have already signed up to purchase a Laundroid. The price should drop significantly when the volume increases. Sakane tells us, “A lot of technologies are in our software, and software is expensive to develop but easy to apply for a mass production product.”
The machine works with an app that sounds useful but is potentially invasive. Just like any IoT device, aspects of our daily lives that were previously private are becoming open to the public. In order to train Laundroid to sort by family member, you have to register your clothes the first time.
It sounds simple enough: Just load all of your clothes into the insert box and then use the app on your smartphone to assign the clothes to a certain family member. The robot picks up each item, takes pictures of the clothing, and memorizes it. After this registration, you can randomly load clothing and then get neatly stacked piles of folded laundry for each member of your household. But then the Laundroid has your data.
“It’s like an online closet,” Sakane explains. It tells you what you have, how often you wear each piece of clothing, how long it’s been since you wore an item, and more. He continues, “We can provide APIs to fashion tech startups or auction sites so that the Laundroid app can make recommendations, like, ‘Oh, you didn’t wear these t-shirts for a year so why don’t you just sell them.’ This is a new way of controlling your closet online.”This data about laundry could reveal behavior patterns and be sold to anyone who is interested in what people wear. Sakane says, “A lot of apparel industries really want the info what each customer already has — they don’t know. We will have that kind of collaboration by the time we launch next year.”
Sakane says, “One of the hardest items is a towel. It seems ridiculous — for human beings, a towel is a towel. But AI has a difficult time recognizing such a simple shape. A towel is just rectangular.” Right now, it takes up to six hours to fold a load of laundry. This time will get much better when people start using the Laundroid enough to give it enough data to train the AI. In order to recognize towels with more than 95 percent accuracy, they’ll need 250,000 pictures or more of towels.
“We have a few engineers who are just taking pictures of towels and pants.” Sakane laughs. “It’s AI training we cannot avoid.”
A laundry folding robot is better than nothing, but the ultimate home appliance would be able to handle every aspect of laundry. Seven Dreamers has partnered with Panasonic to develop an all-in-one version of Laundroid. Sakane says the washer-dryer-folder could be ready in as soon as four years.
Some scientists in Japan reportedly recently developed a robot that can do a lot of household chores, such as washing, drying clothes, folding, and even putting it in the closest place.
Quoting information from the Tech Worm page , Monday (10/12/2015), an automated robot named ‘Laundroid’ is claimed to be the first robot capable of carrying out the task of folding clothes. This robot is the development of the collaboration of the three largest household companies in Japan, including Daiwa House, Panasonic, and Seven Dreamers. According to Seven Dreamers, even though there are automatic washing machines and clothes dryers, many people still have to spend time folding clothes because no machine can do it. Therefore, Seven Dreamers and two other companies plan to make a robot that can fold clothes. With a design like an ordinary wardrobe, this robot is able to fold a shirt within 5-10 minutes. The basic technology used in this robot is image analysis and robotics. By using image analysis, the robot can determine the type of clothing received, then adjust the folding process. In the meantime, the robot can be used to fold t-shirts, shirts, skirts, shorts, trousers, and towels. Panasonic also revealed plans to start marketing Laundroid in 2018 by first making a number of changes, such as smaller sizes and increasing the ability to fold clothes. Japan is indeed known as a country with robotics technology that is very advanced and in direct contact with human life. Prior to this, there were robots that were given assignments as customer service . In fact, it is rumored that there is a development of translator robots to help tourists visiting Japan.
Japan is known for making robots to help the lives of its citizens. Not long ago introduced a robot who was a receptionist at a mall. Now they make washing machine robots.
The robot is named Laundroid. First introduced in the Combined Exhibition of Advanced echnologies (CEATEC) event which took place on October 10 yesterday. Landroid is the result of the collaboration of Daiwa House, Panasonic and Seven Dreams.
Laundroid has a cabinet-like appearance in general. But in it embedded a number of sensors. One of them can analyze the image that is able to identify the type of clothes to be washed. So that helps Laundroid in folding clothes.
The types of clothes that can be washed include T-shirts, shirts, skirts, shorts and long pants and towels. With no need to sort clothes to make the washing process longer than the washing machine in general.
If at full capacity, Laundroid can do the washing process to fold clothes in 7 hours. So it is advisable to do the washing before going to sleep. So when you wake up in the morning, your clothes are washed and neatly folded.