Scientists Teach Robots How to Fold Towels

Posted on April 2, 2010

UC Berkeley Ph.D. student Jeremy Maitin-Shepard and Professor Pieter Abbeel have developed software that allows robots to fold towels. The scientists say the robots succeeded on 50 out of 50 towel folding trials.
The robot begins by picking up a randomly dropped towel from a table, goes through a sequence of vision-based re-grasps and manipulations- partially in the air, partially on the table-and finally stacks the folded towel in a target location. The reliability and robustness of our algorithm enables for the first time a robot with general purpose manipulators to reliably and fully-autonomously fold previously unseen towels, demonstrating success on all 50 out of 50 single-towel trials as well as on a pile of 5 towels.
You can see the robots in action in the videos below. Someday a robot may help you fold towels in your home. Robots could also fold towels at a hotel or spa. Take a look: