Robot trained to help with household chores

Thursday, February 14th 2008, 3:52 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

It's shaped like a human, has arms, hands, fingers like you and I. It can pick up, put away, even see what we see! It's called Domo.
Engineers at MIT compare Domo to the robot in the futuristic cartoon series "The Jetson's," because Domo will eventually be living in your home.

Domo can see everything in front of it. Just like you can see me right in front of you on your television screen. Check it out from a robot's perspective, though. There are cameras in its eyes. And they feed this information to computers to analyze.

 "The ultimate goal of this reasearch is to have the robot interacting with humans in human environments," said MIT researcher Gabriel Gomez.

Say, "Domo, here" and you can hand an object to the robot.
Say, "Domo, give it" and it will hand it right back.
When you say, "Domo, box," it'll hold a box in which you can place things.

These simple tasks could assist the elderly with things like getting a glass from a cabinet. That's what 84-year-old Mig Whipps may need help with someday. Right now, she uses a stepping stool to retrieve items from high shelves. But she doesn't like using it because she lives alone.
"In case I fall, you know," she said. "I don't think it's real safe doing a lot of climbing."
Having a robot in her home would help her stay on her own. "I've been independent too long," Whipps said. "I've made my own decisions and done things the way I wanted to do for a long time."
Although Domo is one of the most sophisticated robots in the world, it's the early version of a robotic helper.

It's a very complex environment," said Gomez, "What you need is a robot that is able to work in this uncertainty."

To do that, researchers believe perhaps the next step is to have Domo learning from people, instead of a computer program. And then, researchers at MIT believe a robot like Domo could be living in your home in about 20 years.

In addition to helping elderly or wheelchair-bound people with simple household tasks, Domo's other potential applications include agriculture, space travel and assisting workers on an assembly line.