Academics at Carlos III University in Madrid have created TEO, a robot designed to carry out one of the nation’s most hated chores – ironing clothes.
The robot is the size of a human and works out how to iron clothes using 3D perception and a sense of force and torque, so it can work out exactly how much pressure to use on the clothing for the best results.
“Ironing might not be the most strenuous household chore from a human perspective, but clothes aren’t an easy thing for robots to manipulate,” Digital Trends’ Luke Dormeh explained.
“Challenges arise from the deformability inherent in garments. Unlike rigid objects, clothes get wrinkled and entangled, so garment manipulation requires careful planning of the moving trajectory, and a constant tracking of garments’ current shape on a moment-to-moment basis.”
A video showing the robot in action was published by the engineers behind TEO. It shows a human assistant placing a clothing item on the ironing board. Then, TEO uses its head-mounted camera to recreate a 3D representation of the item. This way, the robot can determine where the wrinkles are and the process needed to iron the clothing.
Timothy Revell said in New Scientist, that the researchers want TEO to be able to do various chores in the near future, such as helping out in the kitchen. Their objective is to make the TEO capable of copying how a human carries out a task by watching them.
“Results show that this system is capable of performing successfully ironing operations over simple garments,” the research team said in their paper. In future, they wish “to extend the proposed algorithm with detection of different elements present in garments, such as buttons, zippers or other decorative elements.”