Willow Garage's PR2 robot is designed to work in factories performing repetitive tasks, but unlike other manufacturing bots it's not purpose built for a single job. Instead, it can be easily taught to perform almost any task—and that now includes almost handling every step required to do a load of washing. Rosie from The Jetsons might finally be here.
There are still a few holes missing in PR2's washing routine. It lacks the requisite sensors to distinguish between clean clothing tossed on the ground and dirty clothing tossed on the ground, and its vision system is not quite able to peer deep into a front-loading washing machine to ensure no sock is left behind.
But when it comes to handling clothes fresh from the dryer, it's a master at folding and even putting garments on hangers. Ironing might still be a challenge, but with all the extra free time one would have with a washing bot at their disposal, surely they could find a minute or two to de-wrinkle a dress shirt. [YouTube via IEEE Spectrum]