We, Robot

By From page A4 | December 18, 2013

In the 2004 sci-fi film, “I, Robot,” featuring Will Smith, super intelligent robots run amok, starting a revolution and deciding which humans should survive — sort of like Obmacare’s death panel. But we digress. It appears we are on the threshold of a robot revolution of our own, one that will improve efficiency and improve our lives in ways we don’t yet know.

Hopefully we won’t have to battle robots in 2035 like detective Del Spooner (Smith) and his robotic prosthetic arm did.

First of all, the folks who brought us the self-driving car, Google gurus, have now acquired seven companies, including a Japanese one, that will be used to create the next generation of robots. The man in charge of robotic development and envisioning for Google is Andy Rubin, who developed Google’s Android software that powers nearly every phone that isn’t made by Apple.

Rubin, who previously worked for Apple, actually began his career as a manufacturing and robotics engineer for the German company Carl Zeiss.

The self-driving car project began in 2009, and it has already had an effect on automotive technology as radar and cameras are added to new vehicles to apply the brakes automatically to avoid rear-end collisions, to warn of passing vehicles in the rear-view mirror’s blind spot, to warn of cross traffic or pedestrians when backing up from shopping center parking stalls and rear-view cameras to prevent a driver from backing into another vehicle or a small child. It’s only a matter of time before you can type a destination address into your vehicle’s navigation system and ask it to drive you there.

For such a forward-thinking company as Google, though, may already be two steps ahead. also bought a robotics company called Kiva Systems Inc. Amazon is working to have robots hunt and retrieve products from a warehouse in Seattle. That is predicted by industry analysts to shave 20-40 percent off the $3.50-$3.75 cost of fulfilling a typical order.

Shawn Milne of Janney Capital Markets told the Wall Street Journal the potential savings for could be more than $900 million. Amazon, he predicted, could also sell robots to other companies.

We thought drone delivery of packages was the most exciting look into the future. Instead, it’s going to be “We, Robot”: from warehouses to burger flipping and maybe even backseat driving.


Mountain Democrat

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