Watch a robot that irons clothes (and dream)

Commentary: Spanish robot TEO does something that you've always wished someone else could do for you.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


This is truly what you've always wanted, isn't it?

New Scientist/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Large brains create so many small and useless things.

I wasn't specifically thinking of fidget spinners, but seeing as you mention it, yes, like those.

Sometimes, though, the big boffins come up with a stroke of genius. This might be it.

For this is TEO, a robot that irons your clothes. This is a robot that takes away the one task that you've always loathed, even more than making the bed or talking to the neighbor with the strange, permanently raised eyebrow. 

According to the academics from Carlos III University in Madrid, Spain who created TEO, the algorithm that drives him melds 3D perception with a fine sense of force and torque. 

Thanks to the camera embedded in his head, TEO can look at the crumpled shirt you wore to that overrated wedding last week and work out where the wrinkles are and where the creases should go. 

I tried for decades and couldn't do this.

Hark at the big brains' highly scientific description of what he does next: "The most suitable ironing path is computed and, based on it, the manipulation algorithm performs the force-controlled ironing operation."

Look at the video New Scientist obtained. He just stands there and performs perfectly force-controlled ironing. Without complaint or apparent pain. 

He's so gentle with the iron, too. I do, however, have concerns. Currently, TEO seems a touch slow. How long would it take him to iron even one shirt? The TEO team didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

However, one of the team, Juan G. Victores told New Scientist: "TEO is built to do what humans do as humans do it." Ultimately, I suppose. He added that the next step is to get him to perform all sorts of other domestic chores, just by watching humans do it.

No chore, though, needs robots more than ironing. 

TEO might, indeed, be the gateway drug through which robots take over the world. 

We'll love him so much for taking this task off our hands -- and helping us always look our pristine best -- that we won't notice that his family have moved in and have control of our bank accounts, retirement funds and even our cars. 

Then the awful truth will dawn, as TEO balefully looks down on us and says: "Hey, you. Iron my black cape. I'm going out tonight."

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