Forget the robocalypse: Remember the robot-laden utopian home of the future, as portrayed in the Jetsons and a thousand sci-fi shows? It's on its way, and surprisingly soon you'll find many a household task in the hands (claws?) of a robot.
At CES this year, Evolution Robotics wowed many a person in the crowd with its unbelievable cute little Mint robot. This diminutive machine, which is now available on pre-order, takes a leaf out of the Roomba's product manual, but instead of zig-zagging its way across your apartment's floors vacuuming-up crud, the Mint is actually a sweeperbot. And it's built around simplicity: There are only three buttons on the thing, and all you have to do to kick it off is stick either a new wet or dry Swiffer pad on its bottom and select the corresponding mode by button.
Despite its simple UI, it's got inertial measurement systems, bump-detector and proximity detectors and it uses the NorthStar system of projecting infrared dots onto your ceiling to help it navigate around. The idea is that if your home has shiny flooring, you'd plop a pad in the Mint and head off to work, secure in the knowledge that you'll be coming home to a nicely polished up floor.
But that's just one home chore robot isn't it—Why not have a Roomba in action too? You could schedule it to kick off after the Mint has finished, and it would deal with stuff the Mint couldn't. Or perhaps it'd snap up those chunks of cat food your moggy kicked out of its bowl at lunchtime, and which the Mint pushed to one side. Imagine the warm glow you'd get from sitting at work while these two tiny machines cleaned up your mess, dancing around your floorspaces like two of the worker 'bots from Silent Running (only happier.)
But it doesn't stop there. Your kids could be being educated in part by an experimental robot like this one. If you're a pool owner, your pool could be being skimmed of leaves by this solar-powered low-grade robot, that hovers in the top few inches of water and scoops up crap that would otherwise clog your filters. And on your return from work, this recently revealed Heineken bot could scoot up to you, pour you a generous beer, to get your evening's relaxation kicked off nicely.
Sure, these are pretty simple bots that are a far cry from anything in the Jetsons, and even more remote from the kind of artificially intelligent housemaid performance of SARAH from Eureka. I'm not trying to paint an overly-enthusiastic roboticized future, like those impossible dreams in 1950s science magazines...some of these things are on sale, and some will be soon. Hence it won't be too long before your home has four or five, or perhaps even nine or ten, simple 'bots like this doing the duties of a basic butler for you...and you'll ne'er once have a Terminator-like scare. At least until ShavingBot is designed, anyway.