Robot to pair socks!

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38 Responses to “Robot to pair socks!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love it! I wonder when there’ll be robots that can do basic “two hands operated” home chores like this AND that makes economic sense to average middle-class consumers (maybe similar in cost to buying a new washing machine)? 5 years? 10?

  2. Anonymous says:

    uc berkeley home of the masturbating robot.

  3. dagfooyo says:

    OK so first they create a robot to fold laundry, and now one to pair socks… could this be the most effective technique ever used to put off doing chores? “Why haven’t you done the laundry yet?” “I TOLD you, I’m building robots to take care of it, it’ll be done in another couple years.”

  4. xzzy says:

    My favorite part is the idle position.

    He is SO ready to pounce on those socks and organize the hell out of them.

    • Fang Xianfu says:

      This, but also the way he very carefully lays down the flipped sock and smooths it out before getting ready to pounce again :D

  5. SamSam says:

    Sock pairer? Seems more like a good condom applier to me. Wonder if the wife would appreciate having one in the bedroom…

  6. Drinking the well says:

    It’s funny that offshoring my sockfolding to China is probably much cheaper and more effective. Although I don’t think Chinese sweatshopworkers will look so blissfull folding socks.

  7. Lobster says:

    I like how they designed it to look dejected.

  8. slithybrilig says:

    I wish I could get my dowel all nice and shiny.

  9. SomeGuy says:

    Now if only there were a robot designed to recover the socks that disappear into the dryer vortex.

  10. Felton says:

    Rock ‘em, sock ‘em, sort ‘em robots.

  11. Donald Petersen says:

    I wonder why they didn’t design it to just grasp the edge of the sock with one hand, and send the other hand down the sock to grasp the toe, then pull it inside-out. You know, like we humans do it.

    How much harder could that have been?

    • SamSam says:

      Because that kind of almost-unconscious human manipulation required a large number of sense neurons and processing to work out what we are toughing when we reach into a sock, and how to grasp it. Similarly for something like pulling your keys out of your pocket without pulling everything else out.

      I think it would have been a great way to solve it, but it would certainly have been many times more difficult than this brute-force method.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        I wouldn’t have thought so. I insert my hand, pincer fashion, with thumb and forefinger(s) stiffly extended about 1.5″ apart, to the bottom of the sock, pulling up on the sock’s neck with a couple of pounds of pressure so that the toe area of the sock is pulled tight between the extended digits. Since the fingers stretch out the material some small distance, closing the gap between the fingers *always* grasps the toe of the sock. And then I pull it out.

        This always works for me, not only with no conscious thought but also with no real sensory variation whatsoever. Inside-out socks don’t generally contain pocket-change or car keys; indeed, they are similar enough on a generic sock-to-sock basis that I could perform this action pretty reliably with kitchen tongs and closed eyes, once I’ve ascertained whether a sock is inside-out or not.

        Just seems simpler (and less time-consuming, less silly, though regrettably less salacious) then repeatedly pounding the sock over and over on a chromed phallus.

  12. dw_funk says:

    What happens when you live someplace that isn’t big enough for both the sock-pairing robot and the laundry-folding robot? What happens when I get a pancake making robot too?

    I do have to say, this robot has a sweet little face. I wonder what kind of grip strength it has? It’s the perfect robot assassin; nobody would suspect that cute open-mouthed look it wears.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I thought it was “Pair of Socks to Robot.”

    http://tinyurl.com/23maqlz

    Bite my fluffy gray a**!

  14. valdis says:

    Sock Folding.

    That’s the sort of shit that is gonna bring on the robot uprising

    Incidentally, there exist *far* faster robot hands:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KxjVlaLBmk&feature=related

    • Pantograph says:

      In my future I prefer the kinder sock folding robots over your high speed kung fu killer bots. Those are scary.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Fan-flippin-tastic!

    Can’t wait for robots to take over all menial jobs. Then perhaps us all will be able to be human

  16. Mark Dow says:

    The revolt will come when, in an effort at self-improvement, it recognizes the humor in the video or these comments.

  17. Brainspore says:

    God help the laboratory rats that wander in front of that robot.

  18. nickodemus says:

    I love at about 37 seconds in, when it pulls one arm back out of the way, the movements remind me of an obese man trying to reach a dinner plat.

  19. Dewi Morgan says:

    A custom-built robot can do the job it’s been custom-made for, very efficiently. Humans can do things that humans often do, very efficiently. But this contest wasn’t testing either of those things.

    To test something similar to what the contest was testing, get someone who has not performed this task so often that they no longer notice the very subtle micro-movements and learnt behaviours that make this work. Give them the tongs.

    Using only PR2 programming language, explain to them how to do the “turn inside out” thing you do so well. I think you might find it’s more complex than it looks. You might feel the need to take the sock off them and say “Look, HERE’S how you do it!” – but that would be cheating. Continue to explain to them, in PR2 programming language. If they do anything you didn’t explicitly tell them to do (like picking up an item after dropping it) then get them to start over.

    It would be advantageous if your assistant came only with the non-modified arms that a PR2 comes with, because that was a requirement of the competition. Failing that, give them a pair of pliers to use, to manipulate the tongs :P

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Well, that’s what I get for just watching the video and not reading the link about the contest.

      Just saying “its hands were too big, and they weren’t allowed to modify them” would have sufficed.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This video is just one of many in a competition sponsored by Willow Garage’s founder (Scott Hassan). The Berkeley sock-folding won 1st place (and $5000). The other contestant videos, including the 2nd place ($3000) and 3rd place ($2000) videos, can be found on Hizook.com:

    http://www.hizook.com/blog/2010/08/21/pr2-video-contest-results-10k-aggregate-cash-prizes

  21. AllyPally says:

    I don’t care about the outside-in-ness of the socks. I can do that while putting them on. But I want pairs! A robot that could take a pile of socks and pair them, that would be worthwhile.

  22. Unmutual says:

    Seems a bit vulgar . . .

  23. bitslayer says:

    Pretty impressive, but can it tell the left socks from the right socks?

  24. simonbarsinister says:

    Well if the sock folding thing doesn’t work out, at least PR2 can find work in a massage parlor.

    “Bzzt You may now call me HappyEnding2000″

  25. Gainclone says:

    I see that the film was sped up. What prevents robots, in this day and age, from moving at such a fair pace WITHOUT speeding up the film? Are the limitations mechanical or computational?

    • irco says:

      i don’t think is either there are much faster robotic arms, im sure is just the project is not worth spending that much money on, so they decide to use some old arms

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it depends on the computational difficulty of the task, this one looks like it has a lot of image processing involved to get the right sock and then turn it out.

      Conversely, tasks which are more along the lines of pick up all these same things and put them in this box, are almost scarily fast. Viz, everyone’s fave industrial robot, the flexpicker:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyEvkHXFg_Y

    • imag says:

      I was wondering that too.

      The mechanics definitely seem to be an issue; there’s a video of one playing music on piano and drums on the website, and it’s also sped up. Turning MIDI programming into a specified set of actions doesn’t seem like it would take a lot of computation.

      That said, in the video of the robot sorting mail, it seems to be taking a long time to “read” the mail, so maybe it’s slow in both ways.

      Either way, this seems so clearly to be just the beginning. I almost love how quaint these videos are. It’s like watching the dawn of a new time…

  26. pjcamp says:

    I throw all my socks in a pile and take two off the top each day. Consequently, all my pairs are alike.

    And that robot ain’t sortin’, it’s jackin’.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Better pop *two* condoms on, just to be extra careful. Oh, by the way, have you seen my new robot … ?

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