Ah, the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when we celebrate our freedom by drinking beer. But really, how free are you if you have to get up and get your own beer?
Developer Steve Norris, who has an absolutely fabulous sense of humor, is hard at work on a Beverage Delivery System (BDS), a fully automated inter-home delivery system he hopes will solve the "problem that has plagued mankind since the invention of the canned beverage."
The system comprises two discrete elements working in tandem: Baxter, the transport component, and RoboFridge, a fixed location dispenser robot. You sit in your comfy chair and press a button on your remote. Baxter takes off, using several different navigation techniques--IR beacons, dead reckoning, line following, and ecoders--to make his way toward RoboFridge (the two must be located on the same level of your home).
Once docked, RoboFridge dispenses your drink into Baxter's cargo hold, and then Baxter, (also known as ButlerBot) makes his way back to you.
Now that's real independence--although it'll probably be a few more years before you can celebrate.