Home is where the robot is — that's the heart-warming message from robot makers. They say the market for consumer robots is set to explode. Projections appear to bear them out. By 2020, more than one in 10 U.S. homes will own a robot, they say. But you don't have to wait until 2020. There's plenty of robot help to be found right now. And it promises to get better as 2017 progresses.
Moley Robotics Kitchen
The Moley Robotic kitchen, when it's released later this year, will certainly become the mother of all kitchen robots. It features two robotic arms that hang from the ceiling and prepare your meals. It will double as an entertainment center, too, because it's incredible to watch as those highly articulated robot arms zoom back and forth over the kitchen counter stirring, chopping and sautéing.
With the Moley Robotic Kitchen you get more than two robotic arms. You actually get a whole kitchen. The set-up comes with its own counter, shelves, range and oven. There's also a touch screen where you select your dishes. You can choose meals based on ingredients, calories, recipes, and other options.
Moley Robotics' team says it believes its robotic kitchen, "can create dishes as good as those made by the world's most talented chefs." It's hard to argue given the way this robot kitchen works. It video captures the motions of top-rated chefs and mimics their movements. To start, it has learned the cooking skills of Master Chef Tim Anderson, the 2011 winner of the BBC Master Chef title.
There's no reason other great chefs couldn't be recorded down the road. Potentially you could have your meals made by robotic representations of your favorite Food Network personalities. How about we have Ree Drumond cook pot roast tonight? Scratch that -- I'm hankering for Ina Garten's lemon chicken.
The Moley Robotics Kitchen will retail for around $15,000. It will be available later in 2017.
10-in-1 Multi-Function Robotic Cooker
If you don't want to shell out $15,000, but you'd still like some robotic help in the kitchen, there's Gourmia's 10-in-1 Multi-Function Robotic Cooker. Gourmia argues that what every chef wants in their kitchen isn't more space, or more pots, it's an extra pair of hands. This robotic cooker answers that call. It grills, bakes, steams, sautés, stews, pan frys, stir frys, slow cooks, roasts and makes sauces.
This device cooks and stirs automatically so you get a better, faster and more evenly cooked meal. Three key elements make this possible: The auto-circulating movement of air, the base-mounted heating system, and a spatula auto-stirrer that stirs and rotates.
No, it won't talk to you. And it doesn't have cool-looking robotic arms. But it will make life in the kitchen a lot easier. And it also costs a lot less than $15,000, specifically only $300.
Ecovacs Robotics Unibot
The Unibot from Ecovacs Robotics is a robotic vacuum and then some. Yes, it is the typical round robotic vacuum that's familiar to all of us. But Unibot then makes a departure. It comes with accessories that piggy back on top of it. You have the choice of a security camera that streams in real time -- a convenient way to vacuum and keep an eye on things at the same time. You can also set an air purifier on top of it. So you clear the air of your home as you vacuum.
It's a curious combination and who knows if it becomes the winning path for the evolution of the home robot. If the super-robot of the future acts out, you can remind it that it was once just a simple vacuum. Kind of makes you wonder about our own evolution. Did we humans start out as a cleaning tool, too? Better not to think about.
The Unibot will be available May 20. Pricing has not yet been released.
Foldimate is billed as "your robotic laundry folding friend." It holds out the promise of folding your clothes for you. That promise is enough to garner it a lot of eager attention from people who hate folding clothes, which is pretty much all of us. Although it's still in prototype form, more than 185,000 people have registered to receive a Foldimate and over 7,000 of those are paid registrants.
Foldimate pulls your clothes inside the machine and neatly folds them using metal rods to do the actual folding. (There will also be options to steam, perfume and sanitize functions.) After it's done, Foldimate drops your clothes into a neat stack. The tray will hold about 30 items at a time.
Foldimate promises to handle most of your laundry with the exception of linens and small items like socks and underwear. If that is disappointing to hear, remember this is the Foldimate's first iteration. Perhaps Foldimate 2.0 will work out those kinks (pun intended).
Foldimate will measure 28 inches X 32 inches X 31 inches and weigh 66 pounds. A finished prototype will be unveiled later this year. It will go on sale at the end of 2018 and cost between $700-$850. The steam de-wrinkling option will cost an additional $200-$300. The creator of Foldimate, Gal Rozov, says he got the idea because he wanted to spend more quality time with his family and less time folding clothes. I mention this here as ammunition in case your frugal spouse controls the purse strings. Just tell him/her you're doing it for the family. It's not that your lazy. It's that you love them.
Braava Jet 240
It would be remiss not to mention a product from iRobot, maker of the iconic Roomba. iRobot is the big boy on the block when it comes to home robots, controlling over 60 percent of the global consumer robotic vacuum market. That amounts to over 15 million home robots worldwide.
In March, 2016 it unveiled its Braava jet Mopping Robot. It's a detour from the usual floor cleaning robots the company makes. This one is designed to mop up hard-floor, high-traffic surfaces.
The Braava jet features a vibrating cleaning head, precision jet spray and disposable cleaning pads to pull up dirt and stain. Thankfully, you can eject those cleaning pads directly into the garbage without having to handle them. You have several cleaning options depending on what pad you use: 1) Wet Mopping Pads for triple-pass cleaning 2) Damp Cleaning Pads for double-pass cleaning; and 3) Dry Cleaning Pads for single-pass cleaning.
Grills get messy fast with bits of food and grease. The Grillbot promises to take the job of cleaning them off your hands. Simply place it on the grill, press start and close the lid. The Grillbot will clean for 10, 20, or 30 minutes. It sounds like a person thrashing around inside your grill as it bangs against the closed lid. And that's a little disturbing. But it gets the job done. Its bristles can then be detached from the robot and placed in a dishwasher for easy cleaning.
The Grillbot comes in black, red, blue or orange, and retails for $130.
While you're outside having your grill cleaned for you, you might as well get your lawn into shape. The Robomow will give your lawn a neat trim. It comes in different sizes depending on how big your lawn is and prices vary from $500 (1/20th of an acre) to $2,500 (3/4 of an acre).
The Robomow is controlled from a smartphone app. You can schedule which days you'd like your lawn mowed down to the hour, define your mowing zones and the size of your lawn, and even control Robomow remotely like an RC car.
According to the reviewer in the video below, who has owned one for two years, "You'll never have to deal with your lawn again." He even claims it chops fallen leaves so that they become a kind of fertilizer. So it appears that Robomow can put an end to your need to rake leaves. Judging from the fact that he owns a full-size replica of a Class M-3, Model B9 robot, he likely knows his stuff.