The goal of Pieter Abbeel’s group is to teach a robot to solve the laundry problem. That is, to develop a system to enable a robot to go into a home it's never seen before, load and unload a washer and dryer, and then fold the clean clothes and put them away just like you would. The first aspect of this problem that the group tackled was folding, which is one of those things that seems trivial to us but is very difficult for a robot to figure out since clothes are floppy, unpredictable, and often decorated with tasteless and complicated colors and patterns.
Last year, the Berkeley PR2 (unofficially named Brett, for “Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks”) showed us that it could pick a towel out of a pile of clean laundry one by one and neatly fold and stack them, which was an impressive demo. Somewhat less impressive was the fact that the robot would take between 20 and 25 minutes to neatly fold one single towel, which, let's face it, isn't entirely practical. That time has now been cut down to under six minutes, with the potential for as little as two minutes per towel if they really crank the robot up.
And it very likely won't freak out and kill or fold you.