Robotic Washing Machines

Apartment dwellers of the future may have washing machines that come directly to their apartments.

Millions of people who live in apartments all do the same thing when their clothes get dirty, they put their clothes in a bag, then they carry the bag of clothes down the hallway to the laundry room. They stuff the clothes into a washing machine and then they put a few quarters into the machine. Then they go back to their apartment and wait. When the clothes are done washing, they walk back to the laundry room and remove the clothes from the washer, and put them into the dryer. This monotonous routine has to be repeated at least once a week. Most of them cannot afford to buy a washing machine and dryer, and many of the apartments are so small, there's not enough room for a washer and dryer, anyway.

In the future, the apartment dweller may have a washing machine come to him. Washing machines of the future will be robotic washing machines. A robotic washing machine is basically a robot mounted on wheels. It is capable of driving down the hallway, under it's own power. If you need a washing machine, you would go to your phone, and dial a number. A computerized phone switchboard would process your call. You'd hear a recording of a person's voice saying, "If you want to use a washing machine, press one, if you want to access other services, press two". So, you'd press the number one on your phone's numerical keypad.

The next recorded message says, "What is your apartment number? Please enter your apartment number." Suppose your apartment number is 324. You press the number three, then the number two, then the number four. The computerized switchboard then plays a recording that seeks to verify your apartment number. It says, "Your apartment number is 324, is that correct? Press one if it is correct, press two if it is not correct". So, you press one, then you hear a recording that says, "It will take approximately seven minutes for the washing machine to reach your apartment. Please wait."

So, about seven minutes later you hear a bell ring out in the hallway. The bell is your signal that the washing machine has arrived. You open the door, and you see the washing machine parked there in the hallway. When you open the door, the washing machine greets you by playing a recorded message through a loudspeaker. It says, "Please clear the path in to your apartment of any obstacles". You look around, and you may have to move anything that might get in the way, such as a chair, or anything else that might block the path of the washing machine. The washing machine is equipped with video cameras, that act like artificial eyes for the machine, so it can 'see' where it is going. Since the machine has it's own wheels, you don't have to pull it in, or drag it in, it will come in all by itself.

After the washing machine is inside your apartment, it stops moving and it plays a recording through it's loudspeaker. The recording says, "I require a source of water. Please show me where the nearest bathtub or sink is located". So, you point the way towards the kitchen sink, and the robot follows. The robot then plays a recording that tells you that you must remove any dishes or other items from the sink. The robot extends a hose, and the hose reaches into the sink. The purpose of the hose is to suck up water from the sink. This is necessary, since the robot washing machine does not carry it's own water supply. After the hose in is position, the robot washing machine plays a recording that says, "Please turn on the water. Select hot, warm or cold water". So you turn on the water, and you hear a sucking sound as the robot washing machine begins to suck up the water from your sink with it's pump. It does not need to be plugged in, since it is powered by batteries, so there is no need for you to plug the washing machine into the wall.

After it has begun to fill itself with water, the machine plays a recording that says, "You may put your clothes inside now. You may also add detergent." You put your clothes in, and pour in some detergent, and the machine plays a recording that says "please close the lid". After you close the lid on top of the washing machine, the machine starts washing your clothes. After about twenty minutes the machine plays another recording that says it is finished. The water in the washing machine is pumped out into your sink. The machine then retracts it's hose, and plays another recording. This recording says, "Please open the door, drying the clothes will require approximately thirty minutes".

You open the door and the washing machine leaves your apartment. It travels down the hallway to the laundry room, where it plugs itself into the wall. It extends a hose that connects with a hot-air exhaust outlet in the laundry room, then it begins to dry your clothes. It cannot dry your clothes while it is still in your apartment because the hot air exhausted from the washing machine would be exhausted directly into your apartment, and the hot air would make your apartment hot and stuffy. After drying your clothes, it unplugs itself and travels down the hallway to your apartment. When it reaches you apartment, it plays a recording that says your clothes have been washed and dried. You open the lid and remove your clothes. You pay for this service by inserting coins or dollar bills into the machine. After the machine has accepted payment, it asks you to open the door so it can leave.

This type of robotic laundry system will become an ideal laundry system in the future, because it can be adapted to nearly any kind of apartment building, it also provides protection against theft, since it would be virtually impossible for a thief to steal your clothes while your clothes are inside the machine. Robotic washing machines will become the laundry appliances of the future for millions of apartment dwellers, around the world.

Anthony Ratkov, September 14,2012.

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