The Aeolus Robot will clean your house, fetch you a drink, even find granny’s glasses
Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work – juggling emails, children and their lunches – and your home is a disaster, with toys on the floor, a carpet that needs to be vacuumed and spilt milk in the kitchen.
To make matters worse, you have guests coming over in the evening and you won’t have time to straighten up before they arrive.
For the hyper-clean among us, this is the stuff of nightmares. But what if, instead of ignoring the mess and offering apologies to guests, you could instruct a robot to do your dirty work?
Such is the lofty promise of the Aeolus Robot, a child-size machine that wowed onlookers this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The robot performed domestic duties such as mopping, picking up stuffed animals from the floor, moving furniture and retrieving drinks from the fridge using an intricate-looking grabbing arm – all without human assistance.
“This is the first multi-functional robot that can act like a human,” said Alexander Huang, global chief executive of Aeolus Robotics. “Right now it’s like a child, but we will continue to grow its capability so it grows from child to adult. The more people use the robot, the stronger it becomes.”
Each robot the company sells will be connected to a network that allows the machines to share information about thousands of objects, using artificial intelligence to make the robot increasingly intelligent as it adapts to your home and routines, Huang said.
The robot, which company officials have not yet named, can assign those objects to specific individuals whose faces it has memorised, so that, for example, a child’s toy picked up off the floor doesn’t end up in an adult’s cupboard.
The abilities to memorise ownership and distinguish the subtle differences between a bagel and a doughnut, or among family members’ faces, give the robot unique capabilities, Huang said.
“You can say, ‘My room is clean now robot, so please remember this next time you clean and put all my things back in the exact same spots,” Huang said.
“The robot will also remember where you left things, so your grandmother can say, ‘Please find my glasses for me’ and the robot will fetch her glasses.”
Although the robot is still a long way from Rosey, the iconic housekeeper from The Jetsons, Huang believes his company’s creation would be immediately useful for elderly users. Based on “posture recognition”, the robot can determine whether someone has fallen or is experiencing a seizure before alerting emergency services.
Because the robot can incorporate Alexa and Google Home, he said, it could also allow an elderly person to bypass phones, apps and computers they may find
“We think this robot would add a lot of value to the elderly,” Huang said. “Imagine the robot fetching things for them, carrying heavy objects and helping them communicate with their children and grandchildren.”
But of course none of this comes cheap. How much is a drink-fetching, floor-sweeping, grandchild-calling machine of the future going to cost you?
“As much as a family of four on an overseas holiday,” Huang said.