Tag Archives: Automation

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


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


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“.

Large Military Quadcopter in Development

A large “hoverbike” like quadcopter is being developed for the military, the JTARV(Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle) intended for autonomous delivery of supplies to troops. The current vehicle can carry up to 300 pounds over short distances. The goal is to increase the range to 125 miles and to increase the payload to 800 pounds.

The prototype was flown recently at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

If the development is successful, and the goals are met, then these could serve many uses in the front lines.