If you’re worried about the future of manufacturing, you may have a choice: buy an automated home.
The technology is currently in a testing phase and currently only available to pre-built homes.
While that’s a huge step up from the pre-fabricated homes you’ll see at your local home improvement store, there’s a lot of room for improvement.
“There are a lot more variables that we need to know about to understand how that will play out,” says Mark Strahl, cofounder of SmartHome Robotics, a Seattle-based startup that’s building automated home prototypes.
“If we do get the full capabilities of the automation, that could take a couple of years.”
Strahel says the company has been working on the prototypes for months, and has recently received $150,000 from the US government to test them out in homes.
“We’re trying to figure out how to build these machines that will really be able to make these decisions and not have to think about what happens when the machine is gone,” he says.
But, he adds, the testing phase is just the first step.
The next step is getting people into the field and getting them to use the robots.
It’s not going to happen overnight.
The machines won’t be built in a single day, but the company is aiming for 20 robots by 2021.
It will then build and test robots that will be used in homes, offices, and retail spaces.
The goal is to have robots that can take over a range of tasks, from making repairs and servicing to providing home entertainment.
“These robots are going to be used for anything from home automation to security and home security,” says Strahle.
The company will also be testing autonomous, automated, and semi-autonomous robots to make sure they can work in both a home and office setting.
This is an early stage.
“Our goal is not to make a robotic vacuum cleaner,” says Steve Gershenson, the founder and CEO of Smarthome Robotics.
“This is not a robot that’s going to go on a rampage.”
Smarthome robots are coming soon, but it won’t happen for another five years.
“A lot of our work is in the early stages of this,” says Gersh, adding that they’re still working with the manufacturer and are only targeting a first production run of around 200 robots.
“The goal right now is to get these robots out to the public and see what happens,” says Randal Riggs, director of the University of Washington Robotics Lab.
Riggs says they hope to get into homes in 2018, and are now looking to get in to schools.
The US government has funded Smarthome’s efforts to get robots into homes, and will continue to support it.
Smarthome has partnered with Lowe’s and other retailers to sell the robots to consumers.
“It’s really exciting to see this technology take off,” says Michael Breen, the director of innovation and advanced manufacturing at Lowe’s.
“But it’s going be a while before people are using it in their homes.”