I'd Likely Starve to Death Before These Robots Finish Making My Sandwich

By Andrew Tarantola on at

I'm hungry. And lazy. And that sandwich/bowl of popcorn isn't going to make itself. Or maybe...? With James and Rosie in my kitchen, they will. Just very, very slowly.

James and Rosie are two repurposed PR2 robots from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Willow Garage. Orignially destined for vehicle assembly, they now serve a higher purpose—making the foods that I don't have the attention span to make myself. What's really cool is that you simply have to tell them, "make me a sandwich" or "make me some popcorn." Their programming allows them to work through the process necessary without additional inputs from the user. So you don't have to say, "make me some popcorn by first finding a pot, then turning on the stove to medium heat, then pouring a tablespoon of oil into the pot, the adding a half cup of kernels, etc."

They can work it out on their own thanks to the open-source ROS robotics framework, which allows for more flexible programming commands. The only downside at this point is, as you can see from the video, they work at a snail's pace. However, as the technology matures, the variety of commands and the robots' speeds will both increase. [Spectrum IEEE via PC World]