Laundroid the robot can wash, dry as well as fold clothes in about 5 to 10 minutes

Japanese scientists have invented an Android robot to do one of the most disliked of household chores, wash, dry, fold laundry and put away the clothes neatly in the cupboard.

Acclaimed as a world first by manufacturer Seven Dreamers Laboratories, the invention is an automated laundry-folding robot, dubbed “Laundroid.” The company held the public demonstration of the automated laundry robot washing a white shirt for the first time in Tokyo at the 2015 Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC), an international technology trade show at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture. The product has been developed in joint collaboration between Japan’s largest home builder, Daiwa House, Panasonic, and Seven Dreamers.

The sleek machine is designed to look like an ordinary cupboard. With Daiwa House involved in the project, it’s likely their package homes will include the Laundroid for homebuyers in the future.

Despite the availability of automated washing and drying machines, Seven Dreamers Laboratories said people spend an excessive number of hours folding laundry during their lifetimes; yet, there are no machines to do the task.

The prototype of this laundry-folding robot can fold a T-shirt in about 5 to 10 minutes and about the size of a refrigerator. The company aims to reduce the product size by the time it hits the consumer market in 2017.

The basic technology used in this robot is image analysis and robotics. By using image analysis, the machine is able to identify the type of clothing received, which then sets off the robotic processes required to fold the garment. Currently, the machine can fold T-shirts, collared shirts, skirts, shorts, trousers and towels. Socks remain the robot’s biggest challenge, even though the makers aim to have this sorted by the time the machine is released.

Unveiling the robot, Panasonic said it would revolutionise people’s lives by freeing them “from the labour required in the folding and increases time with one’s family and for one’s hobbies.”

With no need to sort the laundry before using the machine, it’s estimated that a full load of clothes will take approximately seven hours to fold, meaning the machine can be set before bedtime or in the morning before work.

The company said that is aiming to sell Laundroid for commercial use from 2018, and hopes to create an in-built home version, such as a unit combined with closets, by 2020.

Japan is at the forefront of robotics technology, with an increasingly number of robots appearing in daily life, from humanoid museum staff to emotion-simulating robotic companions.

A hotel entirely run by robot was launched in Japan recently this year where people could enter their room by face-recognition, control basic necessities and room amenities through tablets.

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