Laundry-folding robot may take hours, but at least you don’t have to fold laundry

Japanese pre-orders for Laundroid laundry-folding robot set for March

The last laundry-folding robot we saw in action took a long time to get a small towel neatly folded into a little rectangle, and that was with the video sped up.

Laundroid is no faster, based on a demonstration at the 2015 CEATEC consumer electronics show, which took place almost exactly one year ago in Tokyo. It’s the result of a collaboration between Daiwa House, Panasonic, and Seven Dreamers, and while it’s a great concept (in theory), it took several minutes for the robot — hidden inside a futuristic-looking black cabinet — to fold up a freshly washed T-shirt, according to Engadget. Although it did the task decently, if not in Martha Stewart-approved style, it’s obviously not ready to take on a basket full of jeans and sheets.

All the same, it’s not your time the bot is wasting, and you’re still saving yourself time by not having to fold your laundry yourself, so we won’t blame you if you get in line to be one of the first owners of Laundroid when pre-orders begin in March 2017. While the bot will initially be offered exclusively in Japan, a “limited number” are expected to go on sale in the United States at a later date as well.

The Laundroid isn’t the only machine of its kind, and indeed, there’s a homegrown American version as well. Researchers at University of California, Berkeley have made a laundry bot using Willow Garage’s $280,000 Personal Robot 2, though it’s no quicker at the task at hand than the Japanese version. This is because clothing and towels are “deformable objects,” meaning their shapes differ depending on how it’s bunched up. A glass always looks the same, but a shirt has many different forms. Because these items aren’t folded in the same way, the bot first needs to determine what it is.

“The challenges posed by robotic towel-folding reflect important challenges inherent in robotic perception and manipulation for deformable objects,” assistant professor Pieter Abbeel tells UC Berkeley News Center. The Laundroid is having particular trouble with socks, apparently.

One difference between UC Berkeley’s robot and the Laundroid is that the latter is a stationary object, whereas the former is mobile and can also fetch you a beer. The Robot 2 is also further away from coming to a retailer near you, so even though it takes the Laundroid seven hours to fold an entire basket of clothes, it still currently has the advantage of the more Rosie-esque robot.

Article originally published in October 2015. Updated on 10-05-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news of Laundroid pre-order availability in Japan in March 2017. 

Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Deals

These 30 Amazon Coupons can help you save on the things you need

Did you know there are thousands of Amazon Coupons and promo codes that you can take advantage of? We found coupons for everything from tech to everyday products. Find out what savings you've been missing out on.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Deals

Save energy and money with a $45 discount on the Nest smart thermostat

If you were looking for a smart thermostat, Amazon is offering up to $45 in savings on the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. Use stainless steel thermostat to the keep your home warm and cozy this fall and save energy by scheduling the…
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Product Review

Philip Hue’s versatile outdoor light strip makes drab yards, holiday decor dazzle

Philips Hue fans can at last enjoy the brilliance of this weatherproof light strip, which offers simple, versatile positioning, a rich selection of 16 million color options, and bright, vibrant illumination.
Smart Home

Softly spoken interactions with Alexa now possible with new Whisper Mode

Amazon's Whisper Mode for Alexa has gone live, so now you can talk more softly to Alexa and it'll respond in kind. The feature will most likely come in handy around napping babies or for bed partners you don't want to wake.
Smart Home

Add some nature to your tech with Mui, a wood panel that’s also a smart display

Are you so immersed in technology that you long for a touch of nature in your home? You could get some potted plants -- or you could invest in Mui, a wood panel that is also an internet-connected smart display.
Smart Home

One in 10 smart home device owners report unresolved technical problems

According to a recent survey from Parks Associates, more than one in 10 consumers report they have experienced technical errors with their connected devices that have yet to be resolved.
Smart Home

New Nuimo Click gives one-touch control over smart home devices

Berlin-based technology company Senic has announced the Nuimo Click, a smart switch that harvests kinetic energy to power itself without the need for cables or batteries. The Nuimo Click will begin shipping in December.
Smart Home

SiriusXM, Amazon team up for two Echo Dot deals with freebies

Amazon and SiriusXM partnered on two joint promotions. New SiriusXM subscribers can receive a free Amazon Echo Dot. People who already own an Echo device can sign up for new SiriusXM subscription with the first three months free.
Emerging Tech

A Fitbit for your cat shit: Automatic litter box tracks your kitty’s health

It may look like a sci-fi teleportation chamber, but Footloose is a high-tech litter box that promises to be the most cutting-edge way for your kitty to take a dump. Here's how it works.
Smart Home

Angee’s security service switches from sales to subscriptions

Angee, a successful startup that raised nearly half a million dollars for its home security hub, has pivoted its business model to offer its home security platform as a subscription rather than a smart home product.