The video: Cornell roboticists have built and successfully tested a canny new housecleaning bot. Of course, building a machine that "knows" where to put your things isn't easy: The robot has to survey a room, identify the components of the mess you've made, and figure out where everything belongs — before actually getting to work. Cornell's unnamed robo-housekeeper uses advanced algorithms and a 3D Kinect camera to identify misplaced dishes, groceries, books, toys, and trash before putting them in their proper places with a mechanical arm. (Watch a demonstration below.) Though the cleaning bot is still too sluggish to inspire Jetsons fantasies, it gets better with practice, and improved from 80 percent to 98 percent accuracy after a few tries, says Yun Jianga, a graduate student on the research team. Thankfully, it learned "not to put a shoe in the refrigerator."
The reaction: When you think about it, tidying up a room is an incredibly complex task, says John Roach at MSNBC. I guess that's why "we're more apt to pour ourselves a cold brew than, say, clean up the kitchen after dinner." In that sense, says Edwin Kee at Ubergizmo, this robo-maid is a "heaven-sent gift from above for moms who have long asked their kids to clear up their rooms but to no avail." Take a look: