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.
Trailers – The SyFy Channel has ordered a pilot for a new series “The Machine”. This will be a TV series based on the 2013 movie of the same name, the trailer for which is shown above.
The concept will be that the world is being transformed by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence. While we are not there yet, our society is in the process of being massively changed by the growing introduction of robots, AI and Automation. The series will show the struggle between the emergent AI and humanity.
This might be a good series if it makes it through to production.
Predictions are that Robots, Automation and Artificial Intelligence will have an increasing role in our lives.
This week is National Robotics Week. This has been an annual recognition since 2010. Events are going on all over the country this week, most aimed at K-12 STEM. The list can be found here.
We have seen wheeled robots. We have seen two legged and four legged robots. The new Boston Dynamics ‘Handle’ merges wheels and legs in an innovative design.
With a 24 kilometer (15 mile) range on a single battery charge, and the ability to pick up and carry loads up to 45 kilograms (99 pounds), this is an impressive robot. The ability to handle a variety of terrains and obstacles easily is also impressive.
We have all seen the hype about deliveries by drone. Now Amazon has begun some trial deliveries in the UK and hope to expand these efforts. The ‘Prime Air’ autonomous drone deliveries are just a trial for now. I don’t think that this will put UPS or FedEx out of business anytime soon, but it is a step towards automated delivery.