Korean housemaid robot does laundry

Korean scientists introduce Mahru-Z, a human-like autonomous robot that can perform house chores such as laundry.

Mahru-Z (right) is working with another robot to perform a tedious house chore. KIST

A recently married co-worker told me that what's even worse than having to do laundry is when your significant other complains that you don't enjoy doing it. I'm single and didn't really know what he was talking about. However, now there's something to help do the laundry that I think I would really enjoy, and it comes from South Korea.

Mahru-Z robot
The Mahru-Z robot. KIST

According to the Korea Times, scientists at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology have created a domestic robot that can help with the laundry and even heat up food in the microwave.

The scientist says that the robot, called "Mahru-Z," is a human-like machine with arms, legs, a rotating head, and it has the capability to "see" objects in three dimensions and recognize chores that need to be done. This is amazing for a machine of just taller than 4 feet and weighing about 120 pounds. I am 6 foot tall and often find myself not knowing what to do standing right in the middle of a messy room.

KIST engineers say that Mahru-Z can use its moving hands, elbows, and six fingers to pick up a dirty shirt, throw it into a washing machine, and push the buttons to get the laundry done. Oh, that may be it--I have only five fingers.

Other than working autonomously, Mahru-Z can also work with its fellow maid robot, Marhu-M, an earlier KIST creation that moves on wheels. Mahru-Z can, for example, put fruit in a basket while Mahru-M, which has the advantage in mobility, can locate the owner and bring him the basket directly.

Both machines can be controlled remotely through a computer server.

You Bum-jae, head of the cognitive robot center at KIST, says that though similar machines have been created at other places, especially Japan, Mahru-Z is for now the most advanced domestic robot in terms of mimicking human movement. Aside from household chores, Mahru-Z can also be used in situations that are too difficult or dangerous for humans.

Mahru-Z is the result of KIST's long time research on "cognitive humanoid" robots, a key project at the institution. These projects cost about 4 billion won (about $3.5 million) per year.

While Mahru-Z seems to be a perfect housemate, you won't be able to get one soon. KIST scientists admit that it will be a long time before the robot can be mass-produced for commercial use.

In the meantime, there's always the Laundromat. Statistically, they say it's a good place to meet people anyway.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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