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It's taken longer than any child of the 80s might have predicted, but the robots are finally coming. We have robots that can run, robots that serve beer, robots that can unload your dishwasher, humanoid robot hostesses, and, of course, robot vacuums.
We're getting to the point where it's hard to imagine a purpose-built robot that doesn't already exist.
Still, there's one uniquely human (and uniquely tedious) activity for which robotic automation has seemed distant and unrealistic: folding laundry. But at this year's CEATEC show in Japan, the world was introduced to a robot that claims to do just that.
Fittingly called "Laundroid," the machine isn't exactly compact—it's roughly the size of a refrigerator. But what it can do is nothing short of amazing. There's no need to sort your laundry; it can recognize shirts, towels, pants, and four different types of skirts, and fold them accordingly. There's no word yet on whether it can handle the ironing.
The Laundroid is the result of a collaboration between Seven Dreamers Laboratories, Panasonic, and Daiwa House Industry. According to Ubergizmo, there are plans to incorporate a washer and dryer before this hulking all-in-one laundry beast is released. The designers expect that to be some time in 2019.
So even if this sounds like your own personal robotic savior, you'll still need to fold your own laundry for the foreseeable future—that is, until the future arrives.