The next time you find yourself worried about the robot apocalypse, remember that after years of development this little robot couldn’t even fold laundry.
For the past few years at the Consumer Electronics Show, the Seven Dreamers booth has always managed to draw a large crowd for demos of its laundry folding robot: the Laundroid. And why shouldn’t it? An automaton that saves you from one of the most monotonous household chores? It sounds too good to be true, and it apparently was, as today the company filed for bankruptcy in Japan.
Robots have traditionally had a hard time breaking into domestic servitude. They can effectively vacuum floors, mop tiles, and even mow the lawn, but tend to fare poorly for other tasks like home security, or simple companionship. Seven Dreamers made quite a few lofty promises about the capabilities of its Laundroid robot, which was about the size of a refrigerator, limiting who could actually have one in their home. Using image recognition, artificial intelligence, and dextrous handling mechanisms, the Laundroid was supposedly able to both fold and organize a pile of clean laundry, leaving you with pre-sorted piles you could just toss in a drawer.
It all sounds like a killer product, but in reality, the machine struggled with folding even basic garments and required clean clothing to be pre-prepped, leaving users to still do at least part of the work. You couldn’t just open the dryer, and toss clothing directly into the Laundroid. As a result, Seven Dreamers managed to rack up a little over $20 million in debt owed to some 200 creditors while it struggled to perfect the robot over the past few years. Even more optimistic than the Laundroid’s capabilities was the company’s promise that it would actually ship sometime this year for around $1,000. If you’ve been holding off on doing laundry until you could buy one, unfortunately, it’s time to stop flipping your undies inside-out and just find a laundromat.