Robots – I have always liked the animatronics that Disney has placed in their parks. Now they are headed in a new direction with some new self-contained, autonomous animatronic characters – the Vyloo. I read about these today in the article “Disney has begun populating its parks with autonomous, personality-driven robots“.
These creatures have embedded cameras and sensors as well as the control electronics to make them come to life. These little robotic figures are programmed with actions and motions, but what makes them unique is the way they can sense their audience and interact with them.
I look forward to seeing these little guys and even more advanced versions in the years ahead. I can easily see where autonomous robots like these are going to be key to establishing the immersive experience that Disney wants to offer their visitors.
Robots – Robots are coming. Some places they are already part of the workforce, like the Kang Nam Tofu House, a Korean restaurant in a strip mall in Milpitas, California. A former Google engineer who owns the Kang Nam Tofu House developed a delivery robot he named Penny. The robot is being built by another company he co-founded, Bear Robotics.
The robot, which has supplemented servers rather than replacing any, delivers food and bills to tables. They claim this has freed the employees to focus more on customer service. The robot is small enough to navigate between the tables and has sensors to avoid obstacles. The robot is now being evaluated in pilot operations at a few other Bay Area restaurants.
How would you feel if a robot such as this delivered you food at your next restaurant visit?
Robots – I came across the article “How Should Your Company Prepare For Robot Coworkers?” this morning. if you are concerned as to how AI and automation will be affecting your job or you company, you should give it a read. It is short only taking about 5 minutes.
The gist of the article is that we need to start thinking how to incorporate AI and robotics into the work place alongside existing employees. the key thing is to modify work flow to incorporate what AI and robotics do well and have humans focus on the less mundane, higher intellect part of the job.
Robots – I have been impress by the Boston Dynamics robots since their first models. They just keep getting better every year. This video was posted today on YouTube.
Apparently even Walmart is looking at automation in its stores. Two different initiatives seem to be under evaluation by Walmart.
EMMA (Enabling Mobile Machine Automation), an autonomous machine for scrubbing store floors, is under evaluation at five stores. After a training run controlled by a human operator to identify the desired operational path, the machine will autonomously clean the floor. It has built in sensors and cameras similar to autonomous vehicles currently on the roads that allow it to navigate around obstacles at a sedate 2.5 miles per hour. EMMA is a product of Brain Corp.
In a separate trial, Walmart has deployed shelf-scanning robots in 50 stores. These machines will scan store shelves to verify inventory, prices and misplaced items. These units are from Bossa Nova Robotics.
Will these attempts at automation cost jobs? Well, probably over the long term, but it is unlikely that the impact will be significant. It is clear though that robots and automation will be in our future.
I saw an article “Self Driving, Robotic Trucks Now Hauling Appliances From El Paso To California” yesterday. I was not aware that autonomous trucks were being tested in Texas, if only for a short distance, along I-10 towards California.
Frigidaire, robotic truck tech maker Embark and fleet management provider Ryder Systems have been using automated trucks to deliver appliances from El Paso to a warehouse in California since October. While the trucks employ Level 2 system now with a driver aboard, their goal is for full autonomous operation.
I think that we will see more and more of this, with fully autonomous trucks on the road before long. You will find a little more on this pilot operation in “Embark’s semi-autonomous trucks are hauling Frigidaire appliances“.
Short Films – The short (5:41) science fiction film “Rise” was published to YouTube in August of 2016 by DUST. The synopsis:
It’s us or them.
This is the dark conclusion that humans have reached in David Karlak’s short film “Rise.” In the near future, robots have developed advanced emotional sophistication and their human creators don’t like it. What should have been a simple and violent extermination of artificial life proves harder when a captured robot demonstrates that the human aggressors are biting off more than they can chew.
Another very well done film from DUST. Picking 2017 as the date when the first sentient robot appears is . . . optimistic to say the least.
Short Films – The short (25:01) science fiction film “Human” has won several awards and was published to YouTube in April of 2017. The synopsis:
The official multi award winning sci-fi independent short film ‘Human’. Directed by multi award winning film maker Patrick Ryder, Human tells the story of Anna, a woman lost and alone who stumbles upon what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, but what she discovers inside will change her life forever with the discovery of Allium the robot ‘Played by Alex Phillips and voiced by Mitch Rouse’. An intelligent machine capable of learning and possibly even feeling. The pair spark up an unlikely friendship and when Anna learns of ‘Mari’ ‘Nadia Lamin’ a woman who may hold the key to all the secrets, Anna knows what she must do.
This is a very well done film. Not the action packed video you normally see with these films, but very enjoyable.
This video is a TED talk given by Marc Raibert is the founder and CEO of robot maker Boston Dynamics in April 2017. It really shows how far robots have evolved. It focuses on ‘SpotMini’ a multifunction robot.