But the computational complexity of reasoning and planning over long periods is higher, and it also involves additional issues that are not so critical for existing applications.
Assistive bots need to be easy to use and adaptable to the skill level of the person they’re helping – most of whom are unlikely to have advanced degrees in AI and robotics. And robots need to perform tasks that system designers may not have anticipated.
“Unlike the realm of industrial robot and car operations, households are much less structured and expected behaviors are harder to define,” says Srivastava. “In order to realize the potential for widespread societal benefits from assistive AI systems, we need to develop new principles for designing them in a way that makes them easier to use, understand and maintain.”
Once this is developed, however, there are many possibilities for other applications. Robots could help treat wounds, manage medications or prepare food for special diets.
Multiple issues need to be resolved before this becomes a reality – but there may be a day when we look back on a laborious laundry-folding robot as the beginning of the end of mankind’s housework.
You can see the laundry folding robot in the exhibition The future starts here at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, until November 4, 2018.
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