Why It’s Almost Impossible To Teach a Robot To Do Your Laundry

Alexandra Ossola
Mar 6, 2015 · 4 min read

But if we do, the machines will finally be able to kill the whole human race.

By Alexandra Ossola

  1. Pick up each item in the pile. (Uncertainty: it’s unclear how many objects the robot will have to pick up.)
  2. Put each item in a laundry basket.
  3. Navigate to the washing machine. (Because of where the robot has to hold the laundry basket, it can obstruct some of the its sensors which means it receives less information and cannot adjust its movements as precisely.)
  4. Depending on the type of machine, pull or lift the door to open it.
  5. Transfer clothes into the machine.
  6. Add detergent and/or fabric softener.
  7. Close the washing machine door.
  8. Choose the appropriate wash cycle (Delicate, Permanent Press, Heavy Duty) and start the wash.
  9. Remove the clothes from the washing machine and transfer to the dryer. (Uncertainty: the robot doesn’t know beforehand how many times it will need to reach in, grab the clothes, and remove them in order to get them all.)
  10. Choose the type of drying cycle and start it.
  11. Remove clothing from the dryer. (Uncertainty: how many times will it have to grab the clothes to get them out? Is there a sock still clinging to the inside of the machine?)
  12. Fold items depending on the type of apparel.
  13. Puts garments away in a dresser or closet.

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The original flagship publication of Medium

Matter

The original flagship publication of Medium

Alexandra Ossola

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Science writer. Win my heart with whiskey.

Matter

The original flagship publication of Medium