Home Household chores Meet Gary, the robot who can do the housework

Meet Gary, the robot who can do the housework

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He’s about the size of Dobby the house elf from the Harry Potter books. And he never balks at taking on a repetitive or boring task. He doesn’t mind cleaning the toilets, picking up socks, or moving packages around a warehouse.

His name is Gary and he is a robot for your home or business.

About the size of a 10-year-old, with a speed of 3.1 miles per hour and a weight of around 40 kg (88 pounds), Gary arrives in early 2022 from the Petah Tikva-based startup Unlimited Robotics.

Gary is currently “naked,” says Guy Altagar, co-founder and CEO of Unlimited Robotics. This doesn’t mean that Gary doesn’t have clothes (although he doesn’t) but rather that the robot hasn’t received all of his programming instructions yet.

But that will change soon, as developers begin to create apps for Gary, who gets his name from the initials of Altagar’s three children – Gali, Rani, and Yaeli.

Gary waters the plants. Photo courtesy of Unlimited Robotics

Despite this playful story, Gary isn’t meant to be cute.

“Amazon is developing something very cute,” Altagar says, referring to the conversational interface powering products like Alexa. ElliQ, from Israeli startup Intuition Robotics, is meant to serve as a companion for seniors – just as cute.

“We’re not in the cute industry,” Altagar points out. “We are in the functional and practical sector. “

Do the laundry, water the plants

Indeed, Gary was not designed to play your favorite songs on demand or to connect a video call to your grandchildren.

Instead, Gary could remove the dirty towels from the laundry basket and put them in the washer (great for the gym or at home). He can water plants, load the dishwasher, and open jars.

Gary loads boxes in the trunk of the car. Photo courtesy of Unlimited Robotics

In a restaurant, he could serve food or greet customers at the door. In a hotel, he could remove the sheets or renew the shampoo and conditioner.

Gary can carry up to 11 pounds in his two robotic arms (although he’s not quite mastered the art of folding clothes, Altagar admits). Its sensors and cameras include one for taking a 3D view of a room and an infrared camera for seeing in the dark.

Gary the robot is coming in 2022. Photo courtesy of Unlimited Robotics

Gary is available for pre-order on the Unlimited Robotics website. It’s not cheap at $ 5,900 (there’s a $ 100 monthly installment plan) but already 80 people have paid the $ 99 fee to secure a place on the waitlist.

Download a new function

While many other companies are developing robots, what sets Unlimited Robotics apart is its “app store” for robots.

Apps can be downloaded to give Gary new skills. Photo courtesy of Unlimited Robotics

Want a new role for Gary? Download it and you are good to go. If a developer chooses to charge for their app, Unlimited Robotics will experience a 30% discount.

Unlimited Robotics provides tools that allow any programmer to build applications without having to learn robotics-specific software. If a developer uses Python or JavaScript, for example, Unlimited Robotics’ Ra-Ya platform (named after Altagar’s mother, Raya) will translate that code to work on their robotic hardware.

Being able to translate seamlessly from one language to another “opens up huge opportunities for software developers to build applications not only for web or mobile, but also for robots,” says Altagar.

Ra-Ya isn’t just for Gary. If a Xiaomi or Samsung developed a four-legged robot with six arms (Gary has two arms and two wheels), the converted Ra-Ya apps will work on them as well.

Altagar is even considering apps that extend what today’s single-function robotic devices can do – imagine a future Roomba with an “arm” accessory that can clean your windows.

Getting to this point is not a straightforward process.

“The application should identify what a window is, learn how to map it and take training on how to clean it,” says Altagar.

Ra-Ya’s software translation technology must know how to connect JavaScript code to the robot’s computer vision, navigation, and machine learning infrastructure.

A sociable robot

When a Gary first comes to your home or business, he’s kind of a blank slate. An app can roughly tell him what to do, but he needs personal guidance.

“The host will teach Gary,” says Altagar. “He’ll explain to Gary which room is the bedroom and where the socks are that need to be picked up.” After the first interaction, Gary will ask for comments. The host will explain to Gary what he did right or wrong and Gary will improve for the next time.

Gary loads the laundry. Photo courtesy of Unlimited Robotics

Gary is a sociable guy – whatever he learns in your home or establishment he will share with every other Gary connected via the internet.

“Mapping your particular home may not be accessible to other users, but understanding what a sock is or how best to pick it up, or how to hold a cup of coffee, is something that can be done. shared, ”says Altagar.

Gary is not an actual version of Rosie from the Jetsons. In fact, the robot was intentionally designed as a human, Altagar told ISRAEL21c. “We didn’t want to create an approach where a woman ‘served’ a family. “

Toy lights

Altagar has no background in robotics – he studied law and economics at Tel Aviv University and started a mobile games startup. Although this venture was unsuccessful, Altagar’s entrepreneurial spirit had flared up.

Guy Altagar, Co-Founder and CEO of Unlimited Robotics Photo courtesy of Unlimited

Robotics

The impulse for Gary was to help the firefighters.

“In 2019, there were a lot of fires, in California and in Israel,” says Altagar. “The only solution was to send planes to release water. We thought, could we create a robot to enter the heart of the fire and release water and other materials there? “

Gary the firefighter turned out to be a bit more ambitious than Altagar was prepared to face.

“But with three little kids in my house, leaving their toys everywhere and my back breaking from picking up their mess, that’s where the idea came from.”

Altagar has teamed up with Dr Eli Kolberg of Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Engineering and Martin Gordon, now the company’s chief technology officer and chief product officer, respectively. The company employs 26 people – 22 in Petah Tikva and the rest in Colombia and Georgia.

Unlimited Robotics has raised seed money from Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami and is finalizing a $ 15 million Series A funding round.

In December, Unlimited Robotics plans to host a hackathon for developers to create apps to test on Gary.

Machines and men

Altagar hopes to see its robots in hotels, hospitals, healthcare facilities, sports stadiums, schools, libraries, museums and, of course, homes.

While Gary isn’t supposed to put anyone out of work, he’s making his debut at a time when many industries, from restaurants to hotels, are struggling to find staff.

“We are about to enter a new era in which machines and humanity will live together,” says Altagar.

“The robots are already in our warehouses and logistics centers, where people cannot see them. We believe robots will be getting closer to humans in a year or two. “

Could Gary be hacked? Altagar insists that Unlimited Robotics “uses the best security measures we can find”.

And Gary won’t listen to your conversations (like Amazon’s Alexa) or take photos without your permission. He will come with a hood that you can place over his head to ensure that he is not looking or recording.

“We don’t care if you’re wearing blue or red socks,” says Altagar. “This information does not come out of your house. What interests us is the shape of the sock, as we want to improve Gary’s abilities.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave the entire field of personal robotics a boost in August 2021 when he revealed that the electric car maker was working on a “Tesla Bot”, a humanoid robot designed – like Gary – to handle “dangerous, repetitive tasks”. or boring.

“It made people pay more attention to this industry,” says Altagar.

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