The dream of having a robot in everybody’s home is as old as the word robot itself. In Karel Capek’s famous play Rossums Universal Robots there was already a comercial advertising for a personal robot: “Cheap labor. Rossum’s Robots. Robots for the tropics.150 dollars each. Everyone should buy his own robot.
Vacuuming the house, cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, cleaning up the chaos in the children’s playroom, loading and unloading the dishwasher or the laundry machine, polishing the shoes, doing the ironing, stowing away the content of the shopping basket: the list of applications of robots in our homes seems endless. So the question seems appropriate: where are all these smart mechanical helpers that can take care of all these unpleasant tasks? Isn’t there a huge market for such devices? Almost everybody would buy one.
There is good news and there is bad news regarding these questions. The good news is: domestic robots are coming. The bad news is: they are coming very slowly, some of them may be more expensive than many people would like, and most of them will not be the 100% substitute of a robot housemaid or butler, which everybody would like to have.
we will present the state of the art in domestic robotics. We will describe some of the most recent developments in domestic cleaning robotics and a number of other smart appliances, including robotic lawn mowing, ironing robots, and digital wardrobes.
Ideally, we would not only present the latest developments in all of the applications and areas above, but also look deeper into the task context, the economic context and market situation, and the fundamental technical problems and challenges. Ideally, we would also identify the emerging key technologies for each of these areas.
A discussion on the technology push, the market pull, and the pitfalls in which technology and business developers can easily be trapped concludes this chapter.