At a 1.2-million-square-foot warehouse in Tracy, Calif., about 60 miles east of San Francisco, Amazon this summer replaced four floors of fixed shelving with the robots, the people said. Now, “pickers” at the facility stand in one place and wait for (Kiva) robots to bring four-foot-by-six-foot shelving units to them, sparing them what amounted to as much as 20 miles a day of walking through the warehouse. Employees at some robot-equipped warehouses are expected to pick and scan at least 300 items an hour, compared with 100 under the old system, current and former workers said.
To be precise, Dr Rubenstein’s ’bot swarm (above) has 1,024 members (210 being a conveniently binary number), known apparently without irony as kilobots. Each is a rigid-legged tripod that moves around by vibrating. Kilobots communicate with infra-red light, which can reflect off the table Dr Rubenstein uses for his experiments, and are programmed with three types of behaviour.
One is edge-following, which allows a ’bot move along the edge of a cluster. The second is gradient-formation, which lets it know how many other ’bots a signal has been relayed through, and thus gives it information about the location of these ’bots and the shape of the cluster it is in. The third is localisation, which means it can agree a system of co-ordinates with its neighbours, so that they can measure distances between themselves.
The machine, equivalent to a human food critic, is composed of an electronic nose made with 16 gas sensors and an electronic tongue made to detect sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (meat or savory) flavors.
The second robot is called ESenS according to the same report. It’s a smart application on Android, the size of a printer, that uses micro-sensors to compare samples to an existing database of recipes.
It took Chongsrid's team about a year to develop the two robots. He told ABC News the team hoped to develop at least 100 or more.
So far, samples can be compared to 11 recipes approved by the Thai government and its “Thai Delicious Committee”.
Designing a light, soft robot that is both self-contained and high-performance remains a challenge. Onboard computers are heavy, so engineers are often forced to strike a less-than-ideal balance between dexterity and autonomy: They can weigh down their robots with sophisticated hardware, tether their experiments to external computers and lose autonomy, or settle for lighter, inferior onboard tech.
Soft robotic fish provide one biomimetic solution. In nature, fish store their heavy machinery—a skull and a brain—in their heads, while the rest of their bodies are light and bendable. Borrowing from nature's model aquatic organisms, Marphese copied fish musculature to design a smart, but still soft, mechanical fish.
“Half of these experts (48%) envision a future in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers—with many expressing concern that this will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order.
The other half of the experts who responded to this survey (52%) expect that technology will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025. To be sure, this group anticipates that many jobs currently performed by humans will be substantially taken over by robots or digital agents by 2025. But they have faith that human ingenuity will create new jobs, industries, and ways to make a living, just as it has been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.”
Cyberdyne’s robotic exoskeletal suits are designed for use at rehab centers by patients building strength. The company is also pitching them to hospitals and nursing homes in Japan, where people older than 65 already make up a quarter of the populace.
“Other than a living, breathing caddie, it doesn't get much easier than that. For just $2,500, you have a robot that shadows you and an adult version of a remote-controlled car.
And let's face it: You'll need that second feature more than the first. The follow function is great for the fairways, but aren't the weeds/rocks/trees where we really spend most of our time? Venture into the rough stuff on your own and just have the X9 meet you where it's safe.”
“That does not bother the tunnel-detecting robots. They have cameras that look up, down and sideways, in front of them and behind them. Controlled remotely by joysticks, they glide, bump and scrape along dark, cramped areas, where the air is not safe for humans to breathe for long. One model sounds and looks like the remote-controlled Humvees sold in toy stores. The other, with its bullet-shaped body and shiny blue and silver shell, seems as if it had been pulled right off a sci-fi movie set.
Among the daily duties shared by Mr. Pittman and a small group of agents certified to search confined spaces is to comb through Nogales’s drainage lines, which the smugglers often tap into to push their loads north. The agents look for signs of disturbance, like a patch of plastic on a steel pipe or scarring where the metal should be smooth.”
You could see Paro as a very well-designed $5,000 pet that will never turn on the person holding it, and will never be hurt if its master flies into a rage. It is as happy in one lap as the next, needs no house-training, can be easily washed and will not die. This makes it a much more practical proposition to have in a nursing home or hospital than a live pet. It is used in such homes in Japan, in parts of Europe and in America. As well as simply making people happy—no mean goal—it can act as a source of reassurance and calm. People with Alzheimer’s often suffer from “sundowning”—a distressed urge to wander that comes on towards the end of the afternoon. Mr Shibata has found that a seal in the arms tends to reduce such wandering, which means fewer falls. Experience in Italy, Denmark and America indicates that care homes equipped with Paro need less medication for their residents. Larger trials now under way in Australia should establish whether this and other benefits can be provided simply by a soft toy, or whether Paro’s ability to interact with the world makes a clinical difference.
“Anderson laughs easily and readily, often at himself. Make no mistake, he's a voluble Renaissance man who's fully aware of his accomplishments as a particle physicist (at Los Alamos National Lab) turned magazine chief (with The Economist and then Wired, which he edited for the past 12 years).
But he'd rather talk about how he's the dumbest guy in the room at 3D Robotics, a mushrooming year-old garage-based operation that — thanks to some $37 million in venture capital infusions — is poised to be a leader in the coming drone economy.
"Being a journalist and being a CEO are similar, because as a journalist you're writing about the do-ers, and as a CEO you're empowering them and taking delight in their success," says Anderson. "I'm the worst programmer and electrical engineer here. And I should be."”