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Consumers: Robots should clean my windows

A survey finds strong interest among consumers for robots that would do the dirty, dull work around the house.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read
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Robots can assemble cars, perform surgery, and repair satellites in space. But when it comes to what consumers want from robots at home, it's all about eliminating drudgery.

Persuadable Research this month did an online survey, which found that consumers would like a domestic robot and would be willing to pay good money for it. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they would consider a domestic robot.

The tasks that consumers said they would like their robots to do are not far off from what the robot maid of the 1960s Jetsons cartoon did. Consumers said they want domestic robots to move heavy items and wash the floor, dishes, and laundry, the survey found.

Other highly desired jobs were home security and serving as a personal assistant. Only a small percentage thought they'd be helpful to the disabled and elderly or to act as babysitters.

People also expressed a preference for a human-like robot, but one that is colorful rather than metallic and customizable in the way people buy options for a car, according to the survey.

The survey seems to reflect people's desire to have machines help them with daily tasks, particularly unpleasant or difficult ones. Despite the opinions of the survey respondents, it would actually be elderly and disabled people who have trouble with household tasks who stand to benefit most from the aid of robots.

The survey found some unrealistic views regarding costs, too: 28 percent of respondents said they wanted a domestic robot to cost under $1,000.

Although there remains a lot of work on toy-like domestic robots, several robotics companies are focusing more on commercial uses of robots where they already have proved themselves in the military and health care.