RocketNews 24 (by Oona McGee):
If there’s a menial task that takes up a substantial amount of time, you can bet Japan is developing a robot for it. So far we’ve seen gems like the 24-fingered hair-washing robot, the floor-cleaning bot and the robot that feeds you tomatoes while you run.
Now, a new generation of self-automated robotic assistance is set to make life easier for families in the very near future, with an amazing new machine that folds your laundry.
This impressive new piece of technology, called the Laundroid, is a joint collaboration between Japan’s largest homebuilder, Daiwa House, Panasonic, and Seven Dreamers, a technical company that previously worked on the “Hayabusa” asteroid spacecraft and now wants to deliver “space quality” technology and products to people on earth.
The sleek machine is designed to look like an ordinary cupboard. With Daiwa House involved in the project, it’s likely their package homes will include the Laundroid for homebuyers in the future.
Attendees at the annual Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) trade show in Japan yesterday were treated to a demonstration of the Laundroid in action, when it folded a freshly dried T-shirt using image analysis and robotics built inside the machine.
By using image analysis, the machine is able to identify the type of clothing received, which then sets off the robotic processes required to fold the garment. Currently, the machine can fold T-shirts, collared shirts, skirts, shorts, trousers and towels. Socks remain the robot’s biggest challenge, although the makers aim to have this sorted by the time the machine is released.
▼ The robotics remain a highly guarded secret, with the folding movements heavily pixelated during the on-stage presentation.
With no need to sort the laundry before using the machine, it’s estimated that a full load of clothes will take approximately seven hours to fold, meaning the machine can be set before bedtime or in the morning before work.
Pre-orders for the Laundroid will begin next year, followed by a release of beta models and then folding machines for commercial use. Following that, in 2019, the creators plan to release the final product, with plans to ultimately create a full wash, dry and fold system so users can reclaim some of the estimated 18,000 hours, or 750 days, that people spend doing laundry in their lifetime.
While we’ll have to wait to find out how much the laundry-folding bot will be, we’re thrilled to know that this invention will be coming out on the market. Until then, it’s back to the laundry basket to fold those clothes!