Robot washes windows so you don't have to

Rollin' Justin the robot impresses humans with its dexterous movements when cleaning windows. One household chore down, 3,000 more to go!

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The next time you're stuck washing windows, know that a robot might do it better. Screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Every time us lazy humans see a robot vacuuming floors, washing dishes, serving food, playing Scrabble with us, or -- in the case of Rollin' Justin the robot -- washing windows, we can't help but fantasize for our own maid robot like Rosie from "The Jetsons" or butler robot like Kryten in "Red Dwarf."

While we're a long way off from all having robots to serve us the perfect martini and walk our dog, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is working with a team to create a humanoid, service robot that can effectively use tools -- like a window squeegee -- to complete household chores.

In a video posted by the DLR, Rollin' Justin wipes down a window to show a typical example of whole-body mobile manipulation. The robot has "compliant controlled light weight arms and the two four-fingered hands" that "make it an ideal experimental platform for these research issues," according to the Rollin' Justin information page.

Rollin' Justin is also equipped with HD cameras, a moving head, a torso, and wheels.

"The individually movable, spring-mounted wheels match the special requirements of Justin's upper body during manipulation tasks," according to a DLR brochure. "Sensors and cameras allow the 3D reconstruction of the robot's environment and therefore enable Justin to perform given tasks autonomously."

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When robots clean, they really put all their wires and wheels into it. Screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

While Rollin' Justin occasionally needs to be guided by a human standing by to wash the windows well, it's only a matter of time before robots learn, adapt, and wash our windows without incident.

"Hybrid reasoning is used to determine the optimal position of the robot regarding the task to be executed," according to the video description. "The control parameters for the compliant behavior are specified during the planning phase. This way uncertainties and external disturbances can be compensated by the robot, while the task is accomplished."

Skynet might not be here yet, but at least we now have robots to wash the grime from our windows so we can see the sky.

 

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