Now Kuka wants to automate your home

Now Kuka wants to automate your home article image

Kuka is one of the world’s most successful makers of industrial robots.

But now the German based company wants to make robots for the home.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Kuka CEO Till Reuter revealed the company’s plans to make a personal consumer robot.

Kuka was bought by Chinese home appliance maker Midea last year in a $US5 billion deal.

Its industrial robots are used by many of the world’s leading manufacturers. They build cars for Tesla and airplanes for Boeing.

Kuka believe this technology designed for the factory floor can also be used to assist humans with everyday chores.

“Midea is not doing any robotics or automation, so Kuka is automation for Midea,” said Mr Reuter. “And they are very well connected to the consumer industry. So together we want to do consumer robotics.”

Kuka’s expertise in building machines that move on their own, combined with Midea’s deep understanding of home appliances, could be the ideal combination.

Assisting with everyday chores

But it’s not yet clear what form these robots will take. Given Kuka’s technology, they’re unlikely to be small companion robots.

They are more likely to assist people with everyday chores such as loading and unloading a dishwasher, or preparing meals and drinks, or making the bed.

Home robots that move generally only do one chore, like vacuum or mop, but they continue to sell.

Last year, the market value of domestic robots grew nearly 26 percent from the year before, according to research from Loup Ventures and the International Federation of Robotics.

By 2025, the market for home robots is expected to grow to $4.4 billion. This is a huge projection given the market value of domestic robots last year was $1.4 billion.

Midea isn’t the only company poised to enter the home robot market.

Humanoid robots

Japanese carmakers Honda and Toyota have also been working on robotic assistants for the home. Their inventions, so far, have primarily focused on addressing the needs of Japan’s growing elderly population.

And earlier this month, the Japanese company SoftBank announced it was buying Boston Dynamics as well as Japanese legged-robot maker Schaft, from Google parent company Alphabet for an undisclosed amount.

SoftBank has been working to bring its humanoid Pepper robot into commercial environments and some homes in Japan. The robot is mostly used in retail outlets to help shoppers find things and answer basic questions.

Boston Dynamics is best known for its bipedal and quadrupedal robots, which were developed primarily for the US military. 

Combining Boston Dynamics and SoftBank technologies could create the perfect recipe for a domestic robot which would be a useful addition to any home.



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