It’s not news that robotics industry is one of the leading technology sections these days and it is obvious not only because of all those drones flying above our heads. Engineers, students, startuppers all try to create new powerful robots capable of replacing humans on doing some routine jobs, requiring great amounts of diligence and attention. You can see various intelligent robot systems already widely used in warehouse facilities, logistics, manufacturing. Remember the latest tech conference or a hackathon you attended: for sure, there have been some robots presented. Those intelligent robot systems are based on the leading innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning and a number of latest achievements in software engineering – so yes, it takes a lot of hard work to create a robot that will totally transform the whole working process. To give you a better understanding of what is in trend now (apart from drones, of course), we picked up three startup companies that presented autonomous robots very likely to improve the work of supply chains.
Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis recently introduced their new venture, known as Starship Technologies. Starship is a robot, whose mission is to address “the last mile” of the delivery route when making deliveries of small packages to suburban homes. Equipped with high-resolution navigation software, a camera, and radar, each robot operates 99% autonomously. Such delivery vehicles, sized as an average mini-fridge, also have microphones to communicate with humans and are able to come over small obstacles. In the nearest future, Starship will be launched in London, Greenwich area, and in the US. There is also another robot of such a kind, known as Sidewalk. We already mentioned this Lithuanian startup before.
Another interesting robot about to change the work of retail sector was envisioned by Simbe Robotics, a startup from the Silicon Valley. Tally, the retail robot is supposed to conduct a grocery story inventory monitoring by scanning about 15000 items in an hour. Tally will move four feet at a time, pause to take a picture and then send the acquired data to the cloud, where the data will be processed, analyzed and turned into specific recommendations for the retail managers that will be sent via a mobile app. Tally can function safely among customers during working hours and requires no extra assistance or special store infrastructure: as soon as it is out of power, Tally returns to the charging base.
For years, agriculture has been assumed to be manual work in most cases. Of course, people have invented a wide range of machines that help in farming, there are huge agricultural complexes equipped with special hardware. However, people still have to control most of the repetitive processes, which decreases our efficiency to grow and distribute food. While the world population is growing, agricultural industries have to come up with some advanced technologies in order to feed more and more people. David Dorhour from Iowa is aware of the issue: currently, he is working on swarm robots, known as Prospero. Each robot is a six-legged bot, joined with hundreds of similar bots: altogether they form a swarm of farming bots supposed to plant acres of land, quickly and accurately. Prospero identifies a soil spot without seeds, plants one at a precise depth, sprays it with a certain amount of fertilizers, covers the seed and marks this patch of land with a shot of special fluid to let other bots know that this area has been planted. All Prospero robots work simultaneously, regulating their concentration on the land: they communicate with each other via unique software, designed by Dorhour, monitor each other’s locations, which requires no extra human control and makes the farming process completely autonomous.
Such a rapid development of robotics industry brings some concerns about the possibility of the radical shift in the labor force and some worrisome forecasts for unemployment statistics. At the same time, there is a great chance of collaboration between humans and robot, which might bring amazing results and drive our industries to a new level of efficiency.
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