How The Jetsons Became Reality        

Are Robots a New Addition to the Family?

July 9, 2024

Are we living in a world with flying cars, space colonies, and super advanced smart home technology yet? This vision was vividly brought to life in 1962 for many thanks to the cartoon, The Jetsons. The show was set in 2062—one hundred years ahead of its time—and foretold a world where ubiquitous technology makes life convenient. Flying cars travel to work, video calls allow instant communication, and robotic housekeepers clean your home. The show was meant to inspire future generations to “dream big” when thinking about technical optimism. As of 2024, flying cars are in progress, video communication is rampant, and robotics appear more in the home than ever. The big technological breakthrough I am watching is autonomous cleaning robots, akin to the character, Rosey the Robot. So 62 years after The Jetsons premiered, are home robots a new addition to the family?

The Jetsons made viewers technologically optimistic about flying cars, video communication, and home robots.

The Robots We Expect Today 

The Jetsons’ technology was so advanced that Rosey the Robot maid’s character was integrated with all aspects of their everyday lives. She could follow instructions or self-identify what need cleaning. If you fast forward 60 years, you will find that autonomous household robots exist. Some examples are the iRobot Roomba, Samsung Ballie, and Amazon Astro. These indoor home robots were designed to help with daily tasks like sweeping, delivering items across rooms, and providing a sense of household security. The home robotics category has gained enough interest that even Apple, one of the most dominant electronics providers in the world, is reallocating its budget to focus more on R&D (Source: Bloomberg). These products have garnered attention and were featured at tradeshows like CES (Source: Samsung), but they have not achieved serious user adoption. So what is holding household robots back?

Robotic voicebots, pool cleaners, home monitoring systems, vacuums, and pets are all in modern homes.

While the current line of household robots is intriguing and can be helpful, it isn’t reliable and self-thinking like the assistants depicted on TV. Rosey the Robot is a fictitious cartoon that moves, talks, reasons, and even shows some emotion. Traits like these that seem simple for humans are incredibly complex for robots. Today’s household robots are consistent and reliable but not smart enough to adapt to their environment or on-the-fly requests. For instance, the Roomba maps the home environment using photocell and collision sensors to follow a set or random vacuuming routine. This is a fancy way to say it will move around and bump into objects to clean in neat lines or randomly. In an ideal world, the Roomba would efficiently track down dirty spots and be smart enough to avoid areas where it can tell the noise bothers your pets.

The Robotics We Expect Tomorrow

Robots are missing physical adeptness, spatial awareness, emotional intelligence, and delicate senses like smell, sight, and touch. With recent discoveries in AI-powered technology and machine vision, there’s impressive potential to make home robots smarter and more human-esc in their motions. 

More companies researching robotics include Boston Dynamics, OpenAI, and Tesla. These companies are trying to push the limits of machines and create a new world where people can be replaced in parts of the workforce. Tesla is working on a 5’8 robot, Optimus (like the transformer), which looks more humanoid than what Amazon and Samsung offer. Optimus uses the same AI driver-assistance program as Tesla vehicles to maneuver and sense its surroundings. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, uploaded a video of the machine completing household tasks, and despite it being in a controlled environment, it felt like watching something similar to television unfold. Watch Optimus pick up laundry and gently pinch and fold it.

The Tesla Bot, Optimus, is shown accomplishing household tasks with a precise and silky touch.

Household robots are under development and will arrive sooner than we anticipate. Optimus is just one bot and it’s expected to cost less than some cars (Source: electrek). When we inevitably get a new robot member of the family, one like Rosey the Robot, I hope they relieve us from mundane household chores. 

Are you ready for a home robot?

The vision of a futuristic world like The Jetsons is gradually becoming a reality. While we haven’t seen everything in the show come to life, technology is taking strides. Household robots demonstrate the potential for autonomous cleaning and assistance but still fall short of intelligent and adaptive capabilities. With innovations in AI technology, machine vision, and machine dexterity, future robots can impact our lives. When this day arrives, we can look forward to a new addition to the family that will assist with daily tasks and enhance our quality of life.

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