INSIDE AN ORDINARY-LOOKING home, a robot suspended from the ceiling slowly expands arms holding a sponge, before carefully wiping a kitchen surface clean. Nearby, another robot gently cleans a flat-screen television, causing it to wobble slightly.
The cleaning robots live inside a mock home located at the Toyota Research Institute in Los Altos, California. The institute’s researchers are testing a range of robot technologies designed to help finally realize the dream of a home robot.
After looking at homes in Japan, which were often small and cluttered, the researchers realized they needed a creative solution. “We thought, you know, how can we use the ceiling?” says Max Bajracharya, VP of Robotics at TRI.