Anyone who grew up with "The Jetsons" would agree that Rosie is the perfect robotic maid with her reliable attitude, superb cleaning abilities and wit, so it's no wonder that researchers keep on trying to find ways to construct humanoid robots that have similar functionalities. Rosie may have been an outdated model when she was first introduced but she can give newer robot models a run for their money.
"The Jetsons" is set in futuristic 2062 and follows the Jetson family who live in Orbit City. Of course, the entire cartoon show has imagined the future as an era of great technology, with flying cars and a comfortable home life where every chore can be passed on to robotic assistants.
Rosie was given the spotlight in the show's pilot and in the eighth episode in 1962. She also made appearances in 1985 and 1987 when the show was picked up for a second and third season. It's easy to see why Rosie became a hit character despite being the only non-organic member of the Jetsons' household because, even if her original purpose is for house chores, her witty comebacks and other antics combined with somewhat expressive "facial" features made her memorable.
With only 46 years until the Jetsons' time, the clock is ticking for researchers who plan to build a robot maid like Rosie. There are some honorable mentions that were unveiled but they still pale in comparison to the two-dimensional robot maid.
In 2010, the Interaction and Robotics Research Center of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) unveiled a bipedal humanoid robot designed to interact with humans through image and voice recognition. Mahru Z has also been given three-dimensional vision to enable it to visually interpret the task at hand and execute it successfully.
"It recognizes people, can turn on microwave ovens, washing machines and toasters, and also pick up sandwiches, cups and whatever else it senses as objects," You Bum-Jae, head of the Cognitive Robotics Center at KIST, explained.
KIST demonstrated Mahru Z's ability in 2010 when they showed Mahru Z, along with its other metallic friend, Mahru M, preparing and serving coffee and toast. Check out the video demonstration below.
Both robots focus on network-based intelligence by using network infrastructure and the main concern of researchers is to improve human-robot interaction.
Mahru Z may have successfully served the researcher toast and coffee at his command but, with the time it took before the food reached the table, it's safe to say that Mahru Z is on the slow side and is still a long way off from becoming the future Rosie.
The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition is responsible for building Atlas, one of the most advanced humanoid robots to date. Before we get into details, though, check out Atlas doing some recently learned skills: household chores.
In the video above, we can see that Atlas has learned how to operate a vacuum cleaner, put aside large items, use a broom to clean up a mess and have a little fun on the job by flying a paper airplane. The robot is definitely closer to Rosie in the cleaning aspect but before you dream of having your own Atlas, you should know that cleaning up is just an added skill programmed recently.
Atlas' main objective is actually to be used in emergency and rescue missions and to do tasks in areas where humans cannot possibly go for safety reasons. Atlas was developed with support, funding and oversight from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Atlas won second place in the DARPA Robotics Challenge where it completed eight disaster response-related tasks in 50 minutes and 26 seconds.
The Future Of Robot Maids
Rosie may be charming and very handy but the idea of having robots taking care of everything in the house may still be a fantasy for now. Sure, people would love to just sit back and relax once they reach home but, no matter how cool the concept of having a robot maid or butler tending to your personal needs is, there is still much to be improved with our current technology to be able to achieve this.
For now, we just have to be satisfied with the Roomba.