Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | February 8, 2009

Robot Roundup

Removing humans from boring, repetitive, dangerous and otherwise unpleasant tasks is always a good idea. In addition to reducing workplace injuries and deaths, reducing health care costs and making sure that human efforts in the production of wealth are not squandered, it also has the added benefit of infuriating the leftists. To them, boring, repetitive, dangerous and unpleasant work is the only real work. The romance of the happy peasant labouring in field and factory with a smile of dedication to the motherland sends a thrill up their legs. The prospect of small business owners and consumers having to accept overly priced goods which are energy inefficient to produce leaves my legs decidedly thrill-less.

So I like to see stories like these:

Robotic forklifts are being developed for use in industries handling dangerous material or working in high-risk situations. The military is a top potential market since explosives and sniper attacks definitely qualify for those criteria.

Robotic warehouses are not new but they are making progress and attracting some important attention. I have been aware of this Kiva system of networked warehouse robots for some time but I did not realize that Gap and Staples had warehouses using the technology. The embedded video does a good job of explaining the benefits to the system.

Robotic snow removal devices have likely been held back by the two methods they, and we, use to move snow. Either use a snow-blower, which is not something you want to turn responsibility over to a robot when neighborhood pets and kids are running around. Or use a shovel which requires a lot of force, energy and swearing. The i-Shovel seems to get around that by letting it detect the first snowfall and get to work keeping the area clear so that massive amounts of the stuff do not accumulate.

Here is a research robot that is being highlighted in the article because of its learning software which might have applications in tasks which require more flexibility than ordinary “pick and place” tasks but I am including it mostly because it looks cool and shows potential in the field of annoying one’s house pets with foam hockey sticks.


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