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back to article Roomba dust-bust bot bods one step closer to ROBOBUTLERS

We know that all of the objects in the picture below are chairs, right? But show this picture to a computer and see what happens. Getting computers to recognise generic objects is a hugely difficult task that’s complicated by variations of the same object (club chairs vs. office chairs vs. folding chairs) and by other objects in …

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Happy

The ability-

To tell the difference between Pringles and toilet paper is paramount in a Robo-butler; unless you have a penchant for that sort of thing...

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Re: The ability-

It's vital if you are blind and would rather not wipe your arse with pringles

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Coat

Re: The ability-

Once you plop...?

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Re: The ability-

Tickles

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Silver badge

Re: The ability-

There's bound to be an automated Assibo ass-wiper somewhere on a Japanese drawing board even as we type.

Then again - why not? A lot of people want home help, and robot aid would be an excellent thing for the infirm and bedridden.

Ass-wiping, cleaning, shopping, and chatting 'bots are the beginnings of the next tech boom, which should be happening in (checks watch...) about 10 years for the expensive early adopters and 15 years for the consumer market.

(Just don't give the robots access to the planet's defence grid. Duh.)

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: The ability-

"Once you plop...?"

Tea.... meet keyboard!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The ability-

"There's bound to be an automated Assibo ass-wiper somewhere on a Japanese drawing board even as we type."

Not on a drawing board, in commercial release even in 1986, when I did a tour of Japan as a teenager.

The Japanese are into loo tech to an almost unbelievable extent.

One evening after a meal with some Japanese friends I went to contemplate Zen on the throne and found it to be shaped like Captain Kirk's chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. I started messing with the buttons, all with idiographs i didn't understand on them. Pushed the first button. My bot started to grow warmer. That's interesting I thought. Heated seat. Pressed another button, Loo music. Pressed another. Airfreshner and a flush. Pressed another button, and blow me down, with a noise like R2 D2 tapping in to the Death Star main frame a chrome probe appears from the back of the loo, rotates round so a nozzle is pointing up and squirts warm soapy water up my Jacksie.

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Go

Re: The ability-

My mother is 80 and although intellectually still quite sharp she is physically infirm and cannot do many things on her own. She has to have other people, who she doesn't really know, strip her and wash her to stay clean, and on her worse days even help in the toilet. It's something she finds very degrading but unfortunately necessary. If she falls down, then because of our lovely British health and safety nonsense her nurses aren't allowed to pick her up and she has to wait wherever she's fallen while my brother or I are called out to pick her up or an ambulance has to be called to lift her up again if we're not available. The day a robot that can do all those things and can also monitor her vital signs and call for help if needed becomes commercially available I'll be finding a way to buy one! The whole "robobutler" concept goes way beyond a gimmicky man-servant, it could transform the quality of life of people who are currently suffering every day and it really can't come soon enough. This research appears to be bringing that a step closer to reality.

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Go

great - but bring on the garment recognition

A robot capable of recognising rubbish and binning it (or recycling if that's your thing) would be nice to have, but what I'd find vastly more useful is one that can do the washing and hang the clothes up to dry and put them away again.

I realise that clothing might be too deformable for computer recognition by shape (yet) but going by colour (not necessarily in human-visible light) might work too.

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Stop

Re: great - but bring on the garment recognition

A robot capable of recognising rubbish and binning it ..., but what I'd find vastly more useful is one that can do the washing and hang the clothes up to dry and put them away again.

But very dangerous to give it both functions. With my sartorial taste, it would probably end up binning all of my clothes!

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Re: great - but bring on the garment recognition

A washer drier is pretty close. One load of basic grey clothes in your life gets you the rest of the way. Doing the ironing though is a real challenge!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: great - but bring on the garment recognition

I have the iRobot Roomba in my Bachelor pad. Brilliant bit of kit. I love it. I'm never vacuuming again. I also got a cordless Black and Decker hand vac for doing the bits the robot doesn't reach. My place has never been so clean. I would recommend it to anyone. Now for me a robot vac is exactly as equivalent and useful as a dishwasher, it doesn't quite do everything (you have to empty the dust bucket and have a quick go with the hand vac on places it can't reach). but then a dishwasher doesn't put the plates away either does it. Once you have one, you won't want to be without it. I mean why do the vacuuming yourself ? Why? And they don't cost much more than a regular vac.

Dyson had better get his act together and get his rumoured robot vac out, or his market, *poof*, is gone.

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Silver badge

Interesting ...

... I seem to recall that some AI and cognition researchers theorised that we could only recognise a chair because we had imbedded knowledge of the act of sitting down. DPM seems a useful compromise for systems which rely on their vision alone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interesting ...

I'm not sure who is lower on the scale of credible, AI researchers of Cognition researchers.

(I'm sure there are good ones, but it seems a few took a leaf from the book of arts and media studies, and decided to just doss all day and write up some imaginations. At least the latter have a reason to write imagination down on paper. :P )

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Thumb Up

This is a *huge* step forward.

Although it sounds like there is still a lot of potential speed up to be had in the software architecture if 90% of the theoretical capability has not been used yet.

Thumbs up for move the idea of the "robot butler" (or for the slightly liess self indulgent a robot nurse) just a little step closer.

Of course that still leaves the mechanical elements.

Clothes recognition. Perhaps.

Pick up, iron and hang clothes on a hanger in your wardrobe. fuggeddaboutit (for now).

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Terminator

Re: This is a *huge* step forward.

I reckon, ironing would be *the* killer app that gets robo-assistance into so many homes.

Skynet at the cost of never ironing again? It's food for thought, admit it.

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Asimo...

...was doing this years ago.

I'm sure I've seen one of James May's "boy's toys" programs where he met Asimo.

Asimo has the ability to to identify any object presented to it; James showed him a toy sports car, and Asimo replied "(toy) car". James (rather unsportingly) said "No, Asimo, its a <insert precise marque/model of car>". Asimo duly updated it's DB of objects.

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JDX
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Re: Asimo...

Asimo is pretty big and isn't it connected to a bank of eternal CPUs? Either way, the difference between Asimo and a £1500 laptop is pretty massive.

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Happy

Re: Asimo...

But can Asimo hoover under my sofa?

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Re: Asimo...

I thought that was learning a specific objects , based on colour and shape, it was good, but if you taught it to recognise a picture of a Mini, and then showed it a picture of a BMW, it wouldn't recognise the BMW as being like a Mini.

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Needs to be housewife proof

"Bring me the thingy! you know, the THINGY.

No, its the one on top of the other thingy by the box thing under the worktop., NO, THE THINGY!!!

Oh God, I'll get it myself.

Look, THIS is the DUSTER I wanted. Why don't you LISTEN!!!!"

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Re: Needs to be housewife proof

You could probably have that kind of thing installed as an add-on module, if you really want it.

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Go

Re: Needs to be housewife proof

"It was there! On the side! Just like I said!"

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Happy

Re: Needs to be housewife proof

Then it would need to be connected to a massive bank of other computers- possibly all of them- to do Female Logic

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Terminator

Re: Needs to be housewife proof

You could probably have that kind of thing installed as an add-on module, if you really want it.

And thus the future unfolds with a whole new category of things-that-A&E-staff-get-to-laugh-about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Needs to be housewife proof

Sorry - you think giving a robot 'Female logic' is a good thing?

Just connect the damn things to the defence grid - go with dignity i say.

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Well just as long as they can make a Roomba that doesn't have a preternatural attraction for cables. No matter how I arrange them, I can be sure that I'll come home to find a guilty looking robot hiding under the sofa sucking on a mains lead like that scene in Lady and the Tramp.

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Boffin

I redesigned my whole interior layout just for my Roomba!

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Coffee/keyboard

Its unusual that a Register comment makes me laugh out loud and then stop and reread it and laugh again. Good job, sir.

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breakfast. +1

The poszt is required...

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Coffee/keyboard

I almost closed my Register account just so I could sign up again in order to say that I signed up just to compliment that post. I want a Roomba now.

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Terminator

Deformable Parts Model

This phrase worries me. I can't help imaging a situation where my robot butler insists that I am in fact, an item of furniture and it is going to deform my fragile fleshy parts to match its model dataase...

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Holmes

The system could identify tubes of crisps and bog roll

Looks like it just read the labels...

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FAIL

Re: The system could identify tubes of crisps and bog roll

Because the label doesn't always face the camera. Do you always recognize objects from their labels?

Last time I went for a walk the postbox didn't have a label on it...

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Joke

Re: The system could identify tubes of crisps and bog roll

I think that if you're sending the robo-butler to post your mail you're going about the whole technology business a little bit backwards!

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Headmaster

Re: The system could identify tubes of crisps and bog roll

"Last time I went for a walk the postbox didn't have a label on it..."

Funny, because I'm sure the local postbox still has E II R and a label full of collection times on it.

Your mileage may vary depending on nationality, of course.

<-- Yes, yes I know.

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Silver badge

(Still) fixing the wrong problem

If you want to differentiate a packet of bog rolls from a packet of crisps why not just read the bar code (that's what it's there for, after all)? If you're a vacuum cleaner I'd far prefer your developers spent time on getting you to climb stairs, and to be able to get the cobwebs off the ceiling, than teaching you to identify 57 varieties of chair.

The only thing a vacuum cleaner needs to know about objects in its path is not WHAT they are, but their properties: movable/immovable, fragile or prone to injury - and then to take a limited set of actions depending on those properties (and erring on the side of caution, natch).

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Re: (Still) fixing the wrong problem

iRobot also makes military robots. As in, is that a gun or a stick? Or is that man wearing a headscarf? (best shoot him to be sure).

How typical of the Register to miss such an important detail.

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Re: (Still) fixing the wrong problem

> iRobot also makes military robots.

But at least there'll be a nice clean battlefield after their robots have killed / bombed / strafed the crap out of every living thing on or near it. (So long as there aren't any stairs).

Hopefully their revision control software won't get the robo-butler and military versions mixed up.

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Anonymous Coward

Ohhh, and I thought Pringles WERE bog roll

My bad.

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Anonymous Coward

SEX! With Hot Robots

This short film warning of the dangers of the subject of this article has to be watched.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0bcmXD1W8s

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Rol
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It's not chess!

While the idea of computing every possible position in chess has been proved impossible, due to the number of positions being greater than the number of atoms in the universe (or thereabouts), a system that has a 3d record of everything isn't bound by the same constraint.

A relatively simple formula could create an index number for the viewed object and then compare it to a database (internet) for a match, or local server for those bots that are just wandering around your house looking for things to do.

Please send the cheques to Mr Cash, although there's no need to be so formal, just Cash, will not offend.

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is it a torch?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6mMY-kZkH4

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Pint

Robobutler!

"Get my box of fags and a lighter there, and pour me a beer while you're at it"

Come on, tell me that wouldn't be the best thing ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Robobutler!

"Get my box of fags and a lighter there, and pour me a beer while you're at it"

Just be sure you have your robot set to en-GB rather than en-US, or you are going to have a potentially nasty surprise.

Unless you are in to that sort of thing.

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Terminator

Virtual Stupidity

is the only thing saving us from the iron-fisted rule of our robotic despot overlords, AKA Skynet. Do we REALLY want robots that are smart enough to see how stupid people are ? One look at the aftermath of a rugby game, and they will know. The missile codes will be decoded world-wide, and 30 minutes later, no people, no civilization, and most importantly, NO BEER.

I know it hurts, but THINK before you ask for a smarter robot. Think how a rotating stainless steel arm and hand assembly would feel jammed through your rib cage. Do you REALLY want a smarter robot now. Hmmm ?

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Silver badge

Do you know the difference between Elephants and Eggs?

No? Then I wouldn't send you to the store to buy eggs!!

Maybe the robotic retina can tell the difference, but will it go to the store? Time will tell!

Some things are better left to humans! As for cleaning up a room, my father had an idea of fitting a garbage disposal in the center of my bedroom and every once in a while, hosing the place down to cure the "mess". Ah, my youth!

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why?

Off the top of my head i cant see why any of this is required, and I have one of these things.

All I want mine to do is cover the floor area and sweep up anything it can fit down. except my stash.

obstacle = move round it, dosent matter what it is.

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Anonymous Coward

"Running DPM is highly compute-intensive. Each pixel requires about 100,000 floating-point operations, 10,000 reads from memory and 1,000 floating-point values stored."

Eh - give the problem to some demo scene programmers and they'll do it with 20 adds, three branches, and a fixed point multiply. And they'll still have time to hit the sauna.

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