One of the highlights in the life of my great aunt is to do the ironing while watching television. The other day, as she was doing her ironing while I was visiting, I had the great pleasure of' witnessing our field making it to the news headlines: "Football playing robots!" Apparently, in the 15th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Nagoya, Japan, the first tournament of the League of football playing robots took place(http://www. robocup. org/RoboCup/). I was thrilled to bits: "You see, you see auntie, how exciting is the field I work in?" She nodded... "Is that what you spent your time on? Trust men to develop something totally useless! Just like the chess playing computers the other day! Why on Earth should somebody want to develop a football playing robot!?" She sighed... "Why can't they develop something really useful, like an ironing robot?" I tried to explain that a football playing robot is an achievement because it has real-time reactions and... She was not impressed! "All these scientists... Is it THAT difficult to make an ironing robot? Perhaps they do not KNOW how to do the ironing themselves! Let me tell you how: Look at the labels of the clothes first and divide them into those that need cool, medium and hot iron. If there is no label, judge from the material of the cloth what type it is and what sort of ironing it requires..." To my aunt's insistence I recorded the instructions. For the benefit of those who want to take up my great aunt's challenge, and the benefit of the part of humankind that lacks the know-how in ironing, the instructions are on the web page Ironing instructions for the ironing robot challenge
Of course, my great aunt does not know anything about all the pattern recognition problems that have to be solved before a robot starts doing her ironing. So, it does not really matter what she thinks. Except... Except of course, my great aunt is an ordinary, a common, an insignificant taxpayer...
PS: A hint for the person that will take up my auntie's challenge: Go to the 14th ICPR to learn all about solving the Pattern Recognition part of the robotic problem!