Toyota's ceiling-mounted robot. [credit: Toyota Research Institute ]
Today, home robots mostly consist of a little puck-shaped vacuum that can bump around your house picking up debris. But someday, maybe, we'll have bigger, more advanced robots that can clean up more than just our floors. Roboticists are still figuring out what these types of robots are supposed to look like, and one wild concept from the Toyota Research Institute is a “gantry robot” that lives on your ceiling. It looks like a slightly less evil version of GLaDOS.
Rather than move around on the floor, Toyota's gantry robot can "descend from an overhead framework" when it's time for some cleaning. The company's idea is that "by traveling on the ceiling, the robot avoids the problems of navigating household floor clutter and navigating cramped spaces."
Getting a human-sized robot to actually live on the ceiling looks like a complicated and expensive proposition. Toyota's system uses an extremely beefy aluminum extrusion cage that covers the entire ceiling of the test house. The robot lives on a room-width horizontal beam that can move along the cage on the perimeter of the house—we'll call this the Y-axis—and then the robot can move left and right along the beam for the X-axis. The whole setup is basically a giant cartesian coordinate CNC machine. No one is expected to build this into an existing house, but Toyota's idea is "what if, in the future, we could design homes to accommodate robotic solutions?"