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SYFY WIRE robots

Autonomous home robot could one day perform your daily chores - from dusting to laundry

By Adam Pockross
Stretch Mobile Robot

You know how the Roomba revolutionized vacuuming so much that you don’t even have to do it now? Well, what if we told you there could be something like that for the rest of the housework?

Meet Stretch, the lightweight, maneuverable robot decked out with a laser rangefinder, depth camera, and microphone array, which could someday be autonomously cleaning your dishes, doing your laundry, or even playing with your dog. At least that’s what Stretch’s inventor, startup Hello Robot, is hoping for.

The product of three years of secret development, the Stretch RE1 debuted this week as the first device stemming from the startup, which stems from the big brains of Aaron Edsinger, Google’s former director of robotics, and Charlie Kemp, a robo-professor (a professor of robotics, not a robotic professor — though technically we’ve never seen him lecture) at Georgia Tech.

Hello Robot Stretch RE1

“Hello Robot is committed to a future in which robots like Stretch enhance life for everyone,” the company states. “Historically, versatile mobile manipulators have been large, heavy, and expensive. Stretch changes that. Thanks to its unprecedented design, it performs a wide range of tasks in a simple, intuitive manner. We call it ‘Simply Useful™’.”

Stretch sure looks simple and useful too, judging by the video below, which shows off the variety of everyday tasks that the sleek robot that really doesn’t look like a robot can perform:

(Full disclosure: We have that Spider-Man figure that Stretch is dusting around at the 1:33 mark. Though he’s still collecting dust.)

In the vid, the tasks are broken down into those that are teleoperated — playing with Fido, vacuuming the couch, sponging the countertop — and those that are autonomous, including perfect penmanship, picking up clutter, and opening drawers … presumably to someday put away that clutter.

Dubbed “a compact footprint and a slender manipulator,” Stretch weighs in at only 51 pounds, has a 109cm vertical range of motion, can extend 52cm beyond its “low mass, contact-sensitive body,” and comes correct with “a gripper, a computer, sensors, and software.”

The RE in the robot’s name stands for Research Edition, so it comes calibrated, open-sourced, and ready for autonomy, in order to be utilized by smarties who will personalize Stretch to their own needs.

So if you’re such a smartie with a sizable enough cleaning budget, go ahead and get in on the action early. Hello Robot calls Stretch a “Robot for Researchers by Researchers” and invites you “to make robots fun, useful, and inclusive,” all for the low, low price of $17,950 robucks.

(via The Verge)