Get a robot! – Most households have a refrigerator and vacuum cleaner, and the lucky ones have a dishwasher and clothes washer too. So how to impress the neighbors? Get your own robot.

If you hate tidying up a messy room, assembling a bookshelf from a kit of parts, fetching a hairbrush for someone who can’t do it herself or loading and unloading the dishwasher, scientists recommend the cure: A robot could do all this for you (and more).

Computer Scientist Ashutosh Saxena develops software for complex, high-level robotics and is working to bring such robots into homes and offices. Among the lab’s goals are programming robots that can clean up a disheveled room, assemble an Ikea bookshelf and load and unload a dishwasher, all without human intervention.

One of the biggest technical challenges is endowing robots with the ability to learn in uncertain environments. It

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