Tag Archives: Automation

Review of Eufy Smart Plug

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Product Review – My old mechanical timer for a lamp in my office finally failed after several years of service. I decided that this was an opportunity to take a look at one of the smart plugs. I found the Eufy Smart Plug on sale (it looks now like this product has been discontinued and replaced with the eufy Smart Plug Mini, about $22 now on Amazon) so I ordered it.

This is not the most ‘brilliant’ of smart plugs, but then neither did my application require much. I can set a schedule to turn the plug on and off, which is what I was primarily looking for. I can also turn the plug on and off remotely with the EufyHome App (availble on the App Store for free) on my iPhone. It was very easy to set up and pair with the Eufy App running on my iPhone.

While this unit does everything I need for my limited application, I would not buy another one. Any future purchases I make need to be compatible with HomeKit, preferably without the need for a controler.

 

Pros

  • Low cost (about $13 when I purchased it)
  • Easy to set up
  • Does everything advertised
  • Works With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Set on/off Schedules
  • Track energy usage
  • WiFi enabled
  • Can be controlled remotely from the App

 

Cons

  • Not Homekit compatible
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Will Robots Cause Job Loss?

Robots – I came across this video today. It was published to YouTube back in November of 2017. While I think it brings up a number of good points, I am still concerned that the increasing introduction of robots and automation will have a detrimental effect on jobs. While I do agree that automation will create new jobs, I fear that the bulk of the new jobs created will be lower paying than those that are eliminated.

I guess only time will tell. All we can do, as far as I can see, is to prepare through continuing education. It is also important for students to choose their professions after some consideration of the future work environment. I do hope that High School councilors are equipped to guide these students into what will turn out to be long-term professions.

Disney Autonomous Animatronics

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 Aid Restaurant Servers

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?

Working Alongside Robots

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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.

The Cost of Industrial Robots Predicted to Decline

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Robots – In a recently published article “Industrial Robot Cost Decline” by ARK Invest, they predict that the cost of industrial robots will drop 65% by 2025. They say:

. . . costs will drop by roughly 65%, to levels much lower than most analysts now anticipate, by 2025. Combined with advances in machine learning and computer vision, this drop in costs should cause an inflection point in the demand for robots as they infiltrate new industries with more provocative use cases.

These are just machines with a significant helping of electronics. It is no surprise that the price will fall as the technology matures, just as it has in so many segments of the electronics industry. This just adds to the rush towards more robotics and automation.

The big question looking forward is how will all of this automation affect society. It is a move that can’t and shouldn’t be stopped, but some long range planning is needed to keep the wide introduction of robots and AI from being disruptive.

Robots at Walmart

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.

Self Driving Autonomous Trucks NOW on Texas Roads

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“.