Willow Garage, a start-up in Menlo Park, Calif., has designed a robot called the PR2 that bears some resemblance to “The Jetsons'” beloved Rosie. It’s still under development, but already the PR2 can fold clothes, fetch a drink from the fridge, set the table and even bake cookies.
The robot’s backers aren’t ready to say just how soon the PR2 will hit the mainstream market. Right now it costs too much, does too little and is too slow to be of interest to most consumers. But to many experts, the idea of a skilled and intelligent household robot finally is drawing near.
“The technology is much closer than most people think,” said Andrew Ng, an associate professor of computer science at Stanford University. “We’re not yet there, but I think that in less than a decade the technology will exist to have a useful household robot.”