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27-02-2008 21:21:00

Kitchen Cleaning Robot Debuts -- Readybot Challenge

The Readybot Robot Challenge today released a preview video of their

kitchen-cleaning robot prototype. The video is available at www.readybot.com

or on Youtube (link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSVwusDeEhI)

Started by a group of veteran Silicon Valley engineers, the Readybot

Challenge is a non-profit effort similar to the DARPA Grand Challenge

robot car race. The goal of the Readybot Challenge is very simple. People

ask what will be the breakthrough application for consumer robotics,

comments Tom Benson, team leader, we think

people want a robot that can clean the kitchen.

The Readybot prototype device looks like a white enamel box with wheels,

2 human-sized arms and retro chrome styling. Like

a dishwasher, but with arms, joke the

designers. In fact the unit fits neatly in the same counter space as a

dishwasher. After activation, it rolls out, deploys several antenna-like

cameras, and raises itself up to human height to begin work. Slowly but

steadily, it picks up cups, bowls, and plates, dumps food, loads the

dishwasher, scrapes and scrubs the countertop. When needed, it grabs one

of several custom tools to scrub, sponge, or maneuver.

Unlike other more complex robots, Readybot makes no pretensions to human

anatomy. Readybot is a low-dexterity design that uses common,

mass-produced parts and commonly available software. The goal of the

project, say the engineers, is to see how much of an average kitchen

such a robot can clean. It can do 30-40% of

the common daily chores right now, said

Benson and with additional programming, we

estimate 50% in another year, eventually topping out at 80%. Really,

most of this technology is already available, its

just a question of how many people you can get writing software.

Whats next for the Readybot challenge team?

There is plenty still to do a paint job

(the current device is plain white) and tests in different kitchens with

different layouts. According to one team member, Readybot is ...a

typical prototype, noisy, slow, and shaky but...

he says with a smile it actually does the

job, and that is amazing.

Readybot Robot Challenge

Tom Benson, 925-264-1187 (Project Lead)

tom.benson@readybot.com

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