Robotics experts from across the European Union have been successful in inventing an exciting new automatic robot that is capable of recognizing various types of garments and textiles, and can effectively sort and fold clothes independently.
The 8-foot-tall robot, nicknamed Dextrous Blue, was assembled in a laboratory at Glasgow University. It is the outcome of three years of work by scientists from Czech Republic, Greece, Italy and Scotland under the project Clothes Perception and Manipulation (CloPeMa) with funding from EU.
The CloPeMa robot has two Nikon DLSR cameras for the eyes, which could capture images at 16 megapixels, and two robotic arms with grippers attached as hands.
The pair of digital eyes of Dextrous Blue can recognize piles of garments then register current position and analyze its description.
The pair of blue, mechanical arms is used for rotating and picking up the clothing materials. These robotic arms are attached to a swiveling base connected to the floor to prevent Dextrous Blue from falling over.
Its grippers have built-in pressure sensors that permit it to "feel" the texture of the fabric by rubbing the cloth with tiny microphones to hear the sounds emitted by the material to distinguish the weight, weave and density of the item.
The scientists encoded a program in Dextrous Blue's computer to process a heap of garments in the form of a mountain then break down that mountain into separate shapes. By recognizing each singular type of cloth, for example, rough denim or smooth silk, the computer then realizes through its sensors how much pressure to enforce when folding the garments.
Dr. Paul Siebert, leader of the project and a computer scientist from Glasgow University, stated that this technology has great potential and has been advancing at a very fast rate. He is predicting domestic robots with the capability to do house chores may be available on the market in a decade or so.
While comparable machines may prove advantageous in the household, Dr. Siebert mentioned British textile producers can test early versions of the bulky robot in factories, rather than the low-paid laborers, to complete the work. He is particularly looking forward to the technology so that textile manufacturing could make a comeback in Scotland.
The CloPeMa assignment has already been finished, but the scientists hope to secure additional funding to pursue their research.