Friday, 13 August 2010

Robot Washing Machine

The definition of a robot is rather broad. Technically a washing machine AS IS, is a robot. It washes your closed by putting the detergent, water, washing, rinsing, etc. These are pre-programmed cycles. It's very simple, it's repetitive and doesn't require much except for the help of a human to actually fill the machine with clothes, the detergent, bleach, softener and pressing the right button.

The newer higher end washing machines can do more, like use less water (by weighing how much clothes are in there) and using lower temperature water (heating water costs money).

So I thought: the washing machine as it stands is quite good. Why change it? However, wouldn't it be nice to be able to put all the detergent in there, and all the bleach and all the softener and only have to worry about putting in the clothes?

Let the machine figure out if the clothes are whites or color and then have it do everything for you. Once it's running low of something, it'll add the item to your online shopping cart. It'll let you schedule when it washes or picks the best time of the day/night to do it.

This doesn't sound very hard to do. What would it cost? Well, I started looking into it. It depends on the parts that you use.

Here were some ideas:

Building containers will add cost to your design. How about using the existing ones... the bottles? Just screw the top which is attached to the washing machine and slide the bottle in. (container $0)

Somehow you need to get the liquid in the right amount (which depends on how much clothing and how dirty it is) so you could use some sort of pump. I was looking at a mini peristaltic pump which unfortunately isn't very cheap ($60) but would give you really good control of how much you'd use.

You'd need one pump for each liquid (3 so far - $180.)

Then you'd need the logic board and the components that detect the weight and how dirty the clothes are. I didn't even try to figure out how much that would cost as I got somewhat discouraged with the price of the pump.

I'm sure lots of people out there have great ideas on how this could be done for less than $300. However think about it, that's $300 you're adding to the price of something that's around $300 already.

Still - feel free to play around with my idea. Just post something about it. I'd like to know if anyone's tried it.

The next problem (which really should be a separate problem) is getting the clothes INTO the washing machine. Thereby eliminating the need for you to do it.

-P
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