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Boston Dynamics' Handle robot stacks boxes


Still Waters
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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Each time news breaks of a fresh video from Boston Dynamics one expects yet another fright night of bipeds making the earth tremble and doing a somersault or four for encores.

This time around, Boston Dynamics' Handle robot proves the robot kings are still full of surprises.

This time, Handle the robot is not scary, unless you are easily frightened by a machine that is quite efficient on the warehouse fulfillment floor.

Handle has been updated and the latest video makes box-stacking in a warehouse a spectator sport.

https://techxplore.com/news/2019-03-stacking-spectator-boston-dynamics-warehouse.html

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That thing looks like a demonic, featherless "Tweety Bird" :w00t:   I assume Bezos is watching and Amazon is getting ready to reduce the labor pool accordingly.  :( 

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Yeah.. right. 

And who stacked all the boxes neatly on the pallet, for the robot to remove ? 

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34 minutes ago, RoofGardener said:

Yeah.. right. 

And who stacked all the boxes neatly on the pallet, for the robot to remove ? 

Well other robots of course.

Almost makes you sorry for those poor sods being replaced on the warehouse floor.  But wait, is there more?

No need for Supervisors to track and train employees, worry about sick days or replacements for employee vacation, No extra employees to fill those needs either.

No need for an HR Dept. with a manager and HR specialists to recruit, hire, and train new employees or give Supervisors the latest  Harassment training

No meed for a Payroll Dept. with a manager and clerks to track and pay employees, deal with employee taxes.  No more withholding, Social Security, Medicaid,

No health safety or accident insurance to worry about, don't need those guys.

No much need for a Controller or accountants.

No need for a Scheduler or Planner either.

Not much use for a Plant Manager when there is nobody to manage.

Not much use for a regional VP when there are no Plant Managers to  manage.

Security  for theft and active  shooter situations?  Don't think so.  Think the decision to use suction cups instead of grasping appendages might be an effort to soft sell?   Suction cups, not too threatening right?  Trick out one of your "tweetie birds "  with armor plating and pincers and it becomes a velociraptor.

Today we get used to them on the factory floor.  Tomorrow one detaches itself from the back of a self driving van and carries your Amazon or UPS package up to your front door.

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1 hour ago, Tatetopa said:

No need for ....

Exactly. It just needs 5 IT heads and 5 mechanics. For 10 distribution sites.

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23 minutes ago, marsman said:

so its basically a forklift truck.....which have existed for years and years......not impressed....sorry

Did it escape you that this forklift truck has nobody driving?  That is rather new.

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2 hours ago, toast said:

Exactly. It just needs 5 IT heads and 5 mechanics. For 10 distribution sites.

Yeah.  A maintenance robot that tracks all the others in real time and plans down-time for part replacement at the ideal moment when the useful life and reliability of a component  is nearing its end.  No breakdowns, a perfect system of preventative maintenance.  The robot orders and stocks parts on its own and has a spare factory robot to take the place of a unit on the floor so that it can be shut down for a couple of hours to do component  replacement.  Otherwise 24-7 availability  And a few IT guys to do the diagnostic checks and monitor the system. .

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3 hours ago, Seti42 said:

One small step closer to the need for universal basic income.

I wonder if there will be investment firms that specialize in robot leasing, and like a mutual fund get operating capital from many small investors.  You could spread out your risk and own shares in many robot makers, and users.  

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8 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

Did it escape you that this forklift truck has nobody driving?  That is rather new.

 

programming and remote control is old technology now......its everywhere

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4 minutes ago, marsman said:

programming and remote control is old technology now......its everywhere

did it impress you when it was new technology?

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5 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

I wonder if there will be investment firms that specialize in robot leasing, and like a mutual fund get operating capital from many small investors.  You could spread out your risk and own shares in many robot makers, and users.  

 

amazon robots

 

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11 minutes ago, marsman said:

this is a robot

 

 

 

more on youtube......search for asimo........the op vid is just a modern forklift....lol.....no disrespect to the poster

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Thanks marsman. I do appreciate your video.   I know the Boston Dynamics creation did not come out of thin air.  I would call it a material handler.  A forklift is a specific class of material handling devices that require pallets or some other form of fork clearance  to pick up and set down items.  Forklifts are a specific item that has become a generic identifier, like Kleenex for tissue and Xerox used to be for copiers.  A forklift is in the class of lift trucks.  Lift trucks  might also have grippers for picking up  hot metal ingots,  or large rolls of paper etc.  They are still lift trucks but not fork lifts.  There are half a dozen large robots (very similar to the one in the Mercedes video) for dipping rotating and replacing investing molds in the titanium foundry where I spent 30 years and a few small one for manipulating finished castings for digital X-ray.  All of those are mounted to bases which they use as a reference in xyz space. I have seen warehouse automated picker carts,  that reference by a metallic strip embedded in the aisle ways.  The Boston Dynamics device is an evolution of those things.  I guess you could say that asimo is just an automated picker cart with a detachable cart.  No big deal.

I suppose the history of your frame of reference has something to do with it.  I did not grow up with robots, except in movies, or cell phones, or even personal computers. If you have lived with them al of your adult life, they must seem commonplace.  It's is a problem being old and still trying to stay current.  Your brain gets clogged up with useless history.

My first experience with programming was handing a stack of Fortran punch cards through a window to a tech in the University Computing center where the main frames resided.   You got to go back a couple of hours later to see if they had run your job.  Tedious.

It is hard to explain how liberating and life changing it was when desktop PC's came around and now those are worthless relics.  I do hope you find some things bring you a sense of wonder .

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Tatetopa said:

  I do hope you find some things bring you a sense of wonder .

like-this?

 

 

do-watch-this

 

 

Edited by marsman
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I was noticing the boxes it stacked on the pallet were about the same size. I wonder how it could handle stacking boxes of various size, shape and weight.

 

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22 hours ago, RoofGardener said:

And who stacked all the boxes neatly on the pallet, for the robot to remove

 

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Remember Big-Trak? The programmable robot toy from 1979. Is progress being held back?

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Here's a thought that occurred to me the other day: we are being told that we need to import immigrant labor to replace our aging population and to "do the jobs Americans don't want to do". Yet on the other hand, we are being told that UBI is the only solution to offset massive job loss due to inevitable automation.

Maybe I'm missing something here but those two ideas seem contradictory. Why are we worried about increasing the number of laborers when all signs seem to suggest that automation will replace virtually all labor jobs in the near future? The jobs Americans "don't want to do" are all being taken by machines, not Mexicans. Robots can pick fruit, stack boxes, build cars, drive trucks, lay bricks and so on. So we are opening the borders to have Mexican and South American immigrants wait around for UBI checks while robots do all the jobs they supposedly came here to do. Am I wrong?

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5 hours ago, aztek said:

illegals can do it much faster for fraction of the cost lol. 

 

tell trump not to build his wall then....lol.....robots dont need housing or welfare.....food  etc

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On 4/1/2019 at 7:47 AM, TripGun said:

Remember Big-Trak? The programmable robot toy from 1979. Is progress being held back?

Its all about available processing power. As micro processors and field arrays become more powerful more possibilities become achievable. In 79 functions were basic and today many times more complex. Those early generation processors had thousands of gates and todays new generations have surpassed 1 billion in a single processor less than 1/4 the size. Also the technology to array logics is common place in multicore processors. 

@Dark_Grey 

Programing a robot to stack a pallet of boxes isn't as complex as picking fruit. A pallet has a repeatable pattern and a set amount of variables.

Imagine programing a robot to pick an apple.

First off you have to determine the proper amount of force used to grasp the apple and not damage it while also not dropping it. 

2 Find the apple in a random location not marked by rfid and extract it without damaging it or surrounding obstacles. 

3 Determine if it is a good apple.

   a. is it the proper color?

   b. is it within size parameters?

   c. does it contain a parasite?

The list goes on and on just to perform a simple task a human can do in a glance and touch. This is why better AI is so sought after. Not just following a set of basic guidelines to do a task but able to perceive quality of product.

The Boston Dynamics Dogs going through the door is an example of awareness of surroundings and interacting with random events. One opens the door and holds it for the other. The question is was this a programmed route or truly random?

Robots right now are suited to basic repeatable tasks with set parameters that don't vary in stable situations like factory work. That's where job losses have and will occur for the near future. Also most of those annoying telemarketers are now robo callers, or at least dialers. 

At some point most hazardous jobs will likely be outsourced to robots, like at Fukishima, but they are just starting to mature. As with all things there are pros and cons. 

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