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posted by cmn32480 on Sunday August 09 2015, @04:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the damned-robots-always-getting-under-foot dept.

A light topic for a summer Friday:

Bookshelves that pop out just the book you need. Kitchen tables that set themselves. Bathrooms that adjust to your personal comfort levels.

The robots in this video from The Economist do absolutely none of those things. But they're pretty adorable nonetheless. Stanford University created a motorized foot stool that can be summoned by its human captors owners. It's either the best footstool or the worst R2-D2 ripoff, and as you can see in the video, some people treated it more like the latter than the former.

There's also a chest of drawers that opens up to provide the right tool, and is also designed to respond to being tickled. (NOT CREEPY AT ALL!) Also there's a couch that can move itself around the room, and a Rubbermaid garbage can that serves as the second worst R2-D2 imitator in the video. You'll still feel bad when it collides into another, non-robotic garbage can though. Just imagine trying to get comfortable with your feet oppressing that adorable ottoman.

There's video accompanying the article as well. What would your ideal robotic furniture be?

Original Submission

Related Stories

The Robot Revolution Has Snuck Up On Us 19 comments

A while back we discussed robot furniture. Now a restaurant in San Francisco is trying to build and run a restaurant run entirely by robots. Now granted, these are not robots like in Asimov's Robot Series. Instead of humanoid-style robots, these are highly specialized, single-purpose machines.

I can foresee a future populated by many, many robots, in which we didn't notice that we were surrounded by them — we were looking for Rosie the Robot and instead got inconspicuous robots that act as automated furniture and interactive surroundings.

What do my fellow Soylenters think? Are we on the verge of a "Robot Revolution" — even if it doesn't look like how 50s sci-fi imagined it would?

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09 2015, @05:46AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09 2015, @05:46AM (#220148)

    My furniture stays where I put it, and that's the way I like it. I don't ever want to meet a robot so subservient that it literally wants to be sat upon, either.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Sunday August 09 2015, @06:56AM

    by anubi (2828) on Sunday August 09 2015, @06:56AM (#220162) Journal

    I have been toying around with making a power chair remote controllable.

    I am getting older, and figured it might be nice to be able to summon a robotic chair to me should "I fall and I can't get up".

    Also, it would be a platform for building remote imaging stuff just in case I wanted to investigate a "bump in the night" and do not want to personally put myself in the middle of harm's way. In a way, consider it a roving security guard.

    It would also be a "mini pack mule" for me.

    I would be using things like quadricopter cameras and the like and quite tiny modules hidden in the cowlings. I could always use covert IR emitters so the thing could "see" in the dark. I do not want to build another "Robby" that would stand out like a sore thumb. I want something that looks like any other power chair.

    The chair itself would have cellphone and other networking functions ( tablet ) built in, as it already has a pretty potent battery in it. It would have no problem providing backup USB phone charging outlets, for instance. As well as appropriate power converters so it can charge from whatever source of electricity is available.

    With today's technology, as well as all sorts of electronically controllable things, there seems to be no limit to what one can program his thingies to do.

    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 1) by chrysosphinx on Sunday August 09 2015, @08:08AM

    by chrysosphinx (5262) on Sunday August 09 2015, @08:08AM (#220170)

    credible and trusted robotic furniture only.

  • (Score: 2, Troll) by wonkey_monkey on Sunday August 09 2015, @08:39AM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Sunday August 09 2015, @08:39AM (#220175) Homepage

    Here's the Incredible Robotic Furniture You Didn't Know You Needed

    And I still don't.

    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 1) by Murdoc on Monday August 10 2015, @03:40AM

      by Murdoc (2518) on Monday August 10 2015, @03:40AM (#220537)

      No, it's clickbait because it's emotionally directed: "you need" (creates anxiety because there's something I need that I don't have) and "didn't know" (creates more anxiety because I wasn't even aware of this lack of knowledge) are the key phrases here, and I'm sad to see this site stooping to such methods. Really it makes me think of scientology, "Did you *know* that you're *unhappy*? Here, let us tell you *why* and the *secret* that will fix that for you!" Total abuse of psychology.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09 2015, @01:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09 2015, @01:14PM (#220238)

    Kitchen tables that set themselves.

    That kitchen table you talked earlier? Yes,, that one, except I have this fetish of making sex on top of such tables. Can you arrange one to set itself up for this purpose?

  • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Sunday August 09 2015, @01:25PM

    by Aiwendil (531) on Sunday August 09 2015, @01:25PM (#220242) Journal

    *) That board at the bottom of bookshelves and cupboards - having it fold away when my robovac is cleaning the room.

    *) Being able to adjust the firmness of matresses (different preferences for different activities and different company) and sofa-coushins (I want them firmer when laying down)

    *) Toiletlids that close automatically when there are noone in the bathroom

    *) Selfcleaning toilet

    *) Automated clothes-folder (dump a batch of dried clothes and it sorts and fold automatically)

    *) Automated ironing of clothes (preferably combined with above)

    *) Automated thrashpicker - for stuff to big for the robovac (and leaves from the householdplants)

    All the rest are stuff already available in home-automation, industrial automation, or things easily built at home.

    • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Sunday August 09 2015, @05:45PM

      by Dr Spin (5239) on Sunday August 09 2015, @05:45PM (#220334)

      It would appear that you need a spelling checker rather more than any of the above.

      Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
      • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Monday August 10 2015, @10:31AM

        by Aiwendil (531) on Monday August 10 2015, @10:31AM (#220620) Journal

        Or that I shouldn't write when on a smartphone on a train when the keyboard's autocorrect is set for my native language instead of english.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by microtodd on Sunday August 09 2015, @02:26PM

    by microtodd (1866) on Sunday August 09 2015, @02:26PM (#220251) Homepage Journal

    couches and chairs that rearrange in the living room. I can use a tablet to set a floor plan and the furniture rearranges itself. Awesome. My wife is always wanting to change the furniture. This way we just set it, walk away for 15 minutes and when we come back it arranged itself!

    A trash can that comes to you, via a voice command or some hand signal picked up by a camera a la Kinect. Again, I love it.

    Drawers that automatically open with a tap.

    Patio furniture that puts itself away at night.

    Couches and chairs move so the Roomba can get under them.

    Seriously, guys, what's not to love?!?!?!?!?

    • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Monday August 10 2015, @01:03AM

      by vux984 (5045) on Monday August 10 2015, @01:03AM (#220499)

      Seriously, guys, what's not to love?!?!?!?!?

      So, after 7 years in one spot, you tell your couch to move 12" to the left and discover something failed. Its not responding. Does it have power? Hmm yes... still not responding. Sigh. Did you buy (and pay for) the 10 year extended robotics warranty on your couch. No? So then you open up the couch, and discover one of the leg motors has seized up and some of the electronics appear to be shot. A bit of research and some email and phone messages later you know the company that made the couch robotics electronics doesn't exist anymore, and compatible parts aren't cheap, you'll need to replace a the mainboard... its not cheap and it will take a week to bring them in for you. Worse, the programming interface to get it going again is still USB and Windows 8 neither of which you've seen in years, hopefully you've still got an old laptop in the basement that still has USB. You wander downstairs to see if you can cobble something together.

      Your partner, meanwhile, rolls her eyes and gives the couch a hard shove. It slides a over a foot, and she sits down.

      Seriously, what's not to love?

      • (Score: 2) by microtodd on Monday August 10 2015, @12:58PM

        by microtodd (1866) on Monday August 10 2015, @12:58PM (#220654) Homepage Journal

        7 years, eh? You bring up an interesting point that's always bothered me. My car is, like 15 years old. How do I know the airbag still works? All those sensors, whatever mechanical solenoid or switch or whatever that's supposed to trip and release the air. There's not really any way to test it. And if it doesn't work...well, sucks for me in a crash, eh?

        So yeah, I get your point, and that's an issue that, to be honest, basically exists everywhere for everything. My dishwasher, fridgerator, heck even my bbq grill.

        Except my cast iron pan. Basically a hunk of metal, that thing will continue to work long after my grandkids are dead.

        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday August 10 2015, @06:04PM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 10 2015, @06:04PM (#220790) Homepage Journal

          After about eight years, my mechanic told me that the airbag had to be replaced, because after that long it would no longer be reliable.

          I use seatbelts. Always. And I won't move the car unless all the passengers have them done up. I don't need an airbag.

          Your mileage may vary.

  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Sunday August 09 2015, @10:06PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday August 09 2015, @10:06PM (#220430)

    Bookshelves that pop out just the book you need.

    Mine does something similar. Granted, I have to search and tap a couple times, but it's still reasonably quick. Plus mine is portable!