Sunday, April 16, 2006

This is a Robot I love

The Amazing Litter-Robot


Robots who pretend are annoying.

Robots who don't pretend are much more successful.

As an unabashed Cat Fan, Rescuer, and Rehabilitator, I have developed true grit. (When daily faced with four boxes and pre-scooping litter, it has to be Love.) I have only two cats now, and scooping litter, and it was still a dreaded daily chore I did for love.

And then I discovered the Litter Robot. I had never considered automatic litter boxes before, because the Litter Maid and its ilk were taking the wrong robotic approach. They were trying to duplicate a human action, and that just doesn't go well. Online reports of poo pellets being flung across the room and motors burning out confirmed my philosophical reaction.

However, the Litter Robot goes back to the drawing board to ask, "How can a machine keep a litter box clean?" And came up with an engineering approach that doesn't try to do things a way a human would. And I can personally state that this turned out to be a delightfully viable system.

Robots should do what they do well. Trying to get a robot to perform human actions will come one day. But right now, it is much better for robots to excel in their fields, which is to help humans excel in theirs.

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