In Which Liz Builds a Robot with Unexpected Results

In Which Liz Builds a Robot with Unexpected Results

=video opens on smiling woman=

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the latest installment of Liz Makes Household Robots. I’m pretty excited to show you my latest creation. This is definitely the most ambitious robot I’ve made yet. Viewers, meet OrgBa.

=video pans right=

I built OrgBa to organize my crap. She’s basically an extensible robotic arm mounted on a Roomba base with a camera up front and a Raspberry Pi microcontroller. I’ve loaded her with SimpleCV for image recognition and the Keras neural-net library for deep learning, plus a ton of training datasets so she can recognize different categories of household crap, like “plate” and “book.” It’s all still pretty off-the-shelf, but so far OrgBa’s working really well. She’s already alphabetized my books

=pans across bookcase=

and organized my dishes.

=pans left=

=hand appears in frame, opens cabinet=

=pans over neat rows of glasses, then up to neatly stacked plates=

You guys, I am so psyched. I’ll never have to clean again! Anyway, the really neat thing is that she should eventually create her own organizational strategies. So she might, say, decide to bundle dishes into place settings instead of separating the plates and glasses.

So that’s OrgBa. Tune in next time to see what progress she’s made. Ciao for now!


=video opens on smiling woman=

Hi, everyone! Liz again with an update on OrgBa. So, since my last video, she’s definitely started creating her own strategies.

=pans across bookshelf=

She reorganized my books by color, which, you know, is kind of cool. Not strictly useful, but that’s okay. It’s creative. Like… organizational art. And some of her choices are useful, like how she gathered all the magazines in the apartment and stacked them by title and month.

=pans to floor=

And that’s really exciting too because, guys, I didn’t train her to recognize magazines. She figured that out by herself. So she’s defining her own categories now! Oh, and also: she decided where magazines “belong” all on her own. Okay, middle of the living room floor isn’t ideal, but the point is, OrgBa’s thinking for herself. That’s massive, guys.


=video opens on smiling woman=

Hello again, DIY robot lovers! Thanks for tuning in today. So you’re probably thinking, hey Liz, why are you standing outside your apartment? Well, let me show you.

=pans to door=

=hand appears, turns doorknob=

=thwacking sound as door stops halfway=

=advances two feet into apartment=

=pans across room=

As you can see, OrgBa’s making rainbows.

=pans all the way left, zooms=

Here’s everything I own that’s red


and here’s all the orange


and all the yellow


and so on, up through violet. So the good news is that I come home to a redecorated apartment every day, which is kind of cool. The bad news is that I can’t actually get into my apartment. So for now I’m staying with my friend Simone. I’m pretty sure this is just part of OrgBa’s learning process, so I want to ride it out. I mean, we all make mistakes while we’re learning a new skill, right? She’ll work out the kinks.


=video opens on smiling woman=

Hi! Liz here, with another exciting installment of Liz Makes Household Robots. Okay! Let’s see what wild and crazy thing OrgBa’s done today.

=pans to door=

=hand appears, turns doorknob=

=door opens=

Okay! So the good news is that I can get into my apartment today. Maybe OrgBa’s over the hump! I can’t wait to see what she’s done.

=advances into apartment=

=pans across room=

So, uh, it looks like OrgBa’s created a category called “yarn.” Funny, I didn’t think I had this much yarn, it’s not like I…

=whips chaotically back and forth=

Wait, where’s the afghan my mom knitted me?

=zooms in on sofa=

=lurches toward sofa=

=hand appears, picks up fistful of color-coded strands, further sorted by length=

Is that my grandmother’s heirloom braided rug?!?

=image blurs=

=comes to rest sideways at ground level=

OrgBa! Oh, honey, what have you done?!?


=video opens on smiling woman=

Hi, guys! Liz here again. I bet you’ve all been sitting on the edges of your seats, wondering what’s been going on over here. Well, as you can see, everything’s back to normal.

=pans across moderately disheveled but otherwise ordinary room=

Better than normal, actually. Turns out Grandma bought the “heirloom” rug at IKEA and lied about it and now she feels guilty, so she gave me five hundred dollars. Which came in super-useful because OrgBa needed more yarn.

=turns 180 degrees=

=pans across ceiling-high stack of woven rugs and blankets=

That’s right: my girl’s an artist. Which maybe just goes to show that anyone with half a brain would rather be creative than clean house. She still likes making rainbows, but she’s also branched out to other styles. I loaded a bunch of artwork into her memory so she could see what she likes. She spent a day doing Mondriaan, and then Monet, and then Rothko and Pollock. And now she’s making her own designs!

=pans across half-finished blanket=

=zooms in on extensible robotic arm as it weaves faster than the eye can follow=

Amazing, right? Guys, I am so proud.

So you may be wondering, hey Liz, what are you going to do with all those rugs and blankets? Because at this rate they’ll fill up the apartment pretty soon. Glad you asked! We’re donating the blankets to Doctors Without Borders, but that still leaves plenty of rugs that need good homes. So we’ve started a web shop where you can buy your very own OrgBa original. The money goes to buy more yarn for OrgBa because I tell you, her yarn habit is WAY expensive.

So that’s it for this episode of Liz Makes Household Robots. OrgBa’s got her own channel now, How to Weave Blankets and Rugs Using Just One Arm. It’s got a lot of video of OrgBa weaving but slowed down like fifty ex so you can actually see how she makes those complicated patterns of hers. As for me, my next video will be down at the shop, where I’ll introduce you all to JigsawBa, my new mobile woodworking robot. I can’t wait to see what she gets up to. Ciao for now!

This story originally appeared in Galaxy’s Edge. Licensed here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Photo by Rock’n Roll Monkey via Unsplash.