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When most people hear about household robots, they think about a Roomba, which is a catch-all term used to refer to all robotic vacuum cleaners.
But there are many other household robots you can delegate tedious household chores too.
Some of the most ubiquitous ones are smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Robotic pool cleaners are becoming common too, as robot mops and robotic lawn mowers are.
Even iRobot, best known for its Roombas, is planning to make a robotic lawnmower.
With these rapid tech developments in mind, it’s easy to imagine a day soon when you’ll be able to laze on the couch and let robots handle all household chores.
That day is still far off, but we are making good progress.
Every year, tech companies are creating new robots that can handle specialized chores.
A Robot for Every Chore
Development of home robots is less ambitious and more fragmented than what Sci-Fi movies depict.
Instead of an all-round robot that can give you the weather update while also fetching you a beer from the fridge, we have robots designed for highly specific tasks.
A Roomba only vacuums and your Google Home speaker acts only as a personal assistant. Your robot pool cleaner is useless out of the pool.
The path to a fully robotic home involves developing many different bots for different applications.
That is why it will take decades before machines can run your entire home. There are still so many chores that robots can’t handle.
It’s not for lack of trying.
Researchers and tech companies have been trying to create robots for specialized tasks.
Take Laundroid, for instance, a clothes-folding robot. The Japanese-made robot does a surprisingly good job, but it takes four minutes to fold just one item.
But that’s fast compared to another robot by Rethink Robotics that takes 15 minutes.
Most household robots are only displayed during trade shows like CES or in sleek marketing videos but never actually hit the market.
They seem brilliant on paper but cannot handle a real home environment.
What’s Holding Household Robots Back?
Tech is the main problem.
More precisely, we have yet to develop our robot tech to the point where robots can easily handle a majority of household chores.
Something you do in seconds without thinking is incredibly complicated for a robot.
Even something as simple as lifting a glass requires a gazillion calculations and precise motions.
The robot must determine in which direction and angle to move its limbs and how much force to apply.
Your brain does these calculations automatically without thinking. A robot is painfully slow.
That’s just lifting a glass. If the robot is to be helpful, it must also know how to open the fridge and get a bottle of wine, open it and tilt it to pour wine into the glass.
That’s almost impossible for the robots we have currently.
That’s why manufacturers opt for single-task robots. And even then, they make robots for basic tasks that don’t require object manipulation.
Your Roomba or Eufy vacuum doesn’t need to move the chair or pick up toys. It merely moves across the floor while avoiding obstacles.
Same for a robot pool cleaner or a robot lawn mower.
The other issue is cost.
Because of their complexity and the amount of research that has gone into developing them, new household robots are prohibitively expensive.
They do get cheaper over time as we’ve seen with robotic vacuum cleaners. You can get a good one for $200 or less, which is five times less expensive than what Roombas cost back when they first launched.
But since most household robots in the market are recent inventions, they are still too expensive for most people.
Best Household Robots
Slow progress is still progress.
Even as we wait for robotic butlers, some pretty awesome robots are available to buy right now:
Robotic pool cleaners: These clean your swimming pool automatically.
Robotic lawn mowers: These are relatively recent inventions. They’ve gotten better. Today, you can get one that does a decent job on your lawn.
Robotic window cleaners: These are especially helpful for tall windows and windows on the upper floors.
Self-cleaning pet litter boxes: These ensure you never have to touch litter. Self-cleaning pet litter boxes also prevent litter from stinking up your home.
Automatic pet feeders: Automatic pet feeders are also another excellent choice for pet owners who spend most of their time away from home. You can feed your pet automatically from your office or vacation.
Smart voice assistants: Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri are great for news and weather updates, playing music, getting recipe ideas and managing your smart gadgets. You can use a smart assistant on your phone or via a smart speaker.