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Robots are evolving at warp speed, advancing as quickly as human imagination and intelligence can carry them. Improvements in materials and electronic guts, coupled with the Promethean promise of Al, are giving birth to a strange new world that blurs the edges of what it means to be human. With the capabilities of learning, perception, language, problem-solving, and logical reasoning, robots are muscling their way into the human experience. Here are a few recent news snippets related to robotic development:

Robots rush in where humans fear to tread

As part of a larger effort to bring robots into every area of operations, the U.S. Army has unveiled two new bots soon to be introduced into its ranks. The Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport is a "robotic mule" to carry a squad's load on dismounted patrols. The SMET, which can be manned or unmanned, can carry 1,000 pounds and operates over a distance of 60 miles in a 72-hour period.

The other bot, the Common Robotic System (CRS-H), is a heavy robot designed to help bomb technicians. It has enhanced capabilities to detect, identify, access, render safe, exploit, and dispose of heavy explosive ordnance, according to the Army. (1)

'Cleanup on Aisle 4'

In a recent article on Robotics Business Review, Georges Mirza writes that forces of the robot industry are positioning themselves for employment in the retail world, in the very near future, for image recognition, to maximize space, efficiently move and replenish inventory, collect data, and more. "Regardless of where investments are made--brick or click--it's all connected and shows that brick is here to stay and robots are part of its future," Mirza said in the article. He further said that once robots operate to scale, they "will facilitate a truly connected tm supply chain and drive efficiencies and insights the industry is starved for." (2)

Enter the androids

The company Promobot has taken the anthropomorphic robot another step along with the introduction of Robo-C. This robot, which can be made to look like an individual person, is unable to walk, but it has 18 moving parts in its face. The company claims that the Robo-C has more than 600 micro facial expressions and limited movement and could be useful in homes and workplaces. As of October, four Robo-Cs were being built by Promobot: one to scan passports and other functions; one replication of Einstein for an exhibition; and two android versions of a Middle-Eastern family's patriarch to greet guests. Price for this robot is between $20k and $50k, dependent on options and customized appearance. (3)

IKEA assembly, breaking eggs, Rock Paper Scissors

The dreaded, frustrating assembly of a piece of IKEA furniture may become a thing of the past. Researchers in Singapore have fabricated a set of robotic arms that are able to assemble an IKEA chair in 20 minutes. The robot employs 3D cameras to identify parts and then assembles them.

U.K. company Moley has developed a robotic kitchen that contains dexterous arms that are able to grasp utensils, crack eggs, measure ingredients, and do dishes. Hundreds of recipes from around the globe can be downloaded from an electronic library into this robot and replicated.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed Janken robot, which is unerringly unable to lose a game of Rock Paper Scissors against a human being. This is not due to the robot's ability at prediction--it cheats. It uses high-speed recognition to see what shape the human hand is about to form--inside a thousandth of a second. (4)


(1.) The Army Times, "Soldiers soon to see robotic mules and tougher bomb bots in the field," Nov. 23,2019

(2.) Robotics Business Review, "Retail Robots are Here to Stay--Start Preparing Now," Nov. 25,2019

(3.) CNBC, "Human-like androids have entered the workplace and may take your job," Oct. 3, 2019

(4.) National Post, "Ten outrageous things robots can do right now, from cooking to building IKEA furniture," Nov. 25, 2019
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Author:Cormier, Ken
Publication:EE-Evaluation Engineering
Date:Jan 1, 2020

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