Stupid Robot Tricks

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is the place to find out what’s new and what’s coming in consumer electronics. Charmin, a maker of toilet paper, got serious this year with several new ideas.

One is a small autonomous vehicle designed to bring a roll of toilet tissue to someone in need. It uses infrared sensors to find its way around and Bluetooth to identify its target. It responds to a distress call from your phone. It brings you a fresh roll of toilet paper.

More questions than answers

The Toilet Rollbot isn’t on the market yet, so there are a lot of unanswered questions. For example, what kind of range does this vehicle have? Can it climb stairs? Can it open doors, or is it useful only for people who keep the door open and their phones in hand?

Can it manage an industrial setting, or is this strictly for home use? If it’s up for large spaces, can it handle multiple requests, identifying individuals in multiple spaces by their phones without confusion, or will some people get multiple rolls and others none?

This brings up one of the most obvious questions: how does the rollbot get the toilet paper? Putting a new roll on the rollbot’s head seems like just as much trouble as changing the toilet paper roll in the first place. For rollbots working in large spaces who might need several refills a day, the skill of asking someone to put the roll on their head might be essential.

An industrial setting makes more sense to us, actually. A single-purpose robot used only when a home runs out of toilet paper seems doesn’t seem like a great use of resources. Maybe it could also bring you a beer upon request?

Other bathroom automation

Charmin also premiered a sensor that lets you know whether a bathroom is too smelly to enter. Like the rollbot, this bit of tech is not for sale. But there are other kinds of bathroom automation already on the market.

Automatic toilets have been around for quite a while. Not only will they flush automatically, but some will also give the user a wash down.

Warming cupboards for towels and cooling cupboards for medicines can make your bathroom smarter, and LED screens for your shower are readily available. Bluetooth shower heads give you opera if you want to sing in the shower.

But Charmin’s third offering at the Consumer electronics Show in Las Vegas might take the cake. They’re offering a portapotty with virtual reality capacity so you don’t have to miss any part of a concert when nature calls.


The rollbot and its ilk might inspire some new ideas in automation. Meanwhile, we should be your first call when you need service or support for any Rexroth electric motion control. New or legacy, Rexroth is our specialty.

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