Super Bowl Drones, Laundry Robots, & Self-Driving
Welcome back to the working week, everyone! Before you jump into that email, check out a bunch of things that you should know about in the world of robotics that you can share with coworkers and other interested family members.
1. Drones at the Super Bowl
At last week’s Super Bowl, aerial drones may have been banned from around the area of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any drones around.
On the security front, Skyfire said it worked with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and a team of pilots, security experts and software planners to deploy two tethered drones above Atlanta for security monitoring purposes.
French company Elistair said two of its tethered drones were used at the event, one by CNN for TV broadcasting purposes (CNN has an FAA Part 107 waiver for flying over people), and one by Unified Command for security purposes.
For CNN, the DJI M200 drone with an Elistair Light-T was set on the rooftop of the CNN building, which faces the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. At a height of 45 meters above the rooftop, viewers could view aerial imagery before and after the event, Elistair said. For Unified Command, the same setup was used for its security teams appointed by the NFL.
During the halftime show, Intel drones were used as part of the performance, spreading a message of “LOVE” with drones equipped to look like floating lanterns during Maroon 5’s performance of “She Will Be Loved”.
The use of drones for different purposes (security, entertainment, newsgathering) not only shows the versatility of the technology, but a growing acceptance of its ability to perform those functions.
2. Robot, do my laundry
When we think about household chores that humans don’t like doing a lot, laundry is up near the top of the list. It’s not the actual washing or drying, of course – that’s what washers and dryers have been doing for years. Nope, it’s the loading, unloading, and then ultimately folding that has us wishing for a robot like Rosie. At our [email protected] event this year, keynoter James Kuffner from Toyota mentioned that about 70% of all household tasks are basically pick-and-place operations (I’d say 90% if you have kids).
The laundry folding part has been addressed by companies like Foldimate, but now there’s a Japanese company attempting to create one that does the loading/unloading part. In this IEEE Spectrum post, author Evan Ackerman discusses Mira Robotics, which uses a remote tele-operated robot to take laundry out of a machine.
What’s interesting is that the tele-operation would be done by a professional operator, not by the owner of the home. So it’s like having your own personal maid or housecleaner, only it’s in robot form. It’s not autonomous, but I’d imagine that they’re working on that part as well.
3. Crash-test dummies will be working overtime
Whenever I hear people go on about the promise of autonomous vehicles, I hear promises of reduced traffic accidents and the fact that “robot drivers” will never get tired, distracted, etc. Furthermore, I start seeing articles talking about the new designs of vehicles, and how in the future, cars will become more like “mobile offices” or “mobile hotels”, because we could imagine a time where I could travel from Boston to Washington, D.C. in my own personal pod, which would allow me to work, watch TV, and even sleep while on the journey (although nobody’s addressed the need to use the bathroom yet).
If the industry moves forward with these designs, a LOT of work will need to be done to rethink the safety protection systems within the vehicles themselves. Seat belts and airbags have all been designed for people in cars that are seated facing forward. With some of these “office pod” designs and even couch/bed style designs, people won’t be.
In the meantime, accidents will happen, not because the technology itself is unsafe, but rather because of all the other human drivers that will remain on the road. If I’m going to be sitting in a non-traditional style autonomous vehicle, I’m going to want to be assured that the thing will protect me when my fellow Massachusetts driver is out there checking his text messages or drinking his morning Dunkin’ Donuts large regular.
Fortunately, people are thinking about this problem. In this Automotive News piece, author Eric Kulisch discusses ways that federal safety standards are being looked at for the future of autonomous vehicles:
“The challenge for autonomous vehicle developers is meeting crash standards without an approved crash-test process or next-generation safety standards when there is no consensus on how interior seating will be arranged or how it will react with occupant restraints.”
The post goes on to explain how a new consortium of automakers and safety equipment makers are working on pushing a standard to avoid test requirements from multiple AV developers.
4. Food delivery demand grows, but tech isn’t as advanced
In a June 2018 report on food delivery in the U.K., 28% of British consumers were ordering more food deliveries than the previous year, with 44% of food ordered via online channels, and half of the orders coming from millennials.
However, when it comes to the technologies that consumers think will happen as part of the future of food delivery, drones and autonomous vehicles were less likely than other technologies. Here’s an infographic showing the results of analysis done by Italian food site Nife is Life:
If you’re in the restaurant business and looking to expand your delivery options, it might be more beneficial to make sure your website can handle delivery processing and go with the GPS tracking rather than going with the robots and drones. At least for the short term.
5. Non-robot story to tell at the watercooler
Working USB thumb drive found in leopard seal poop
“No, that’s OK guys, you can keep the drive. I don’t need those photos after all.”
6. Catching up on last week’s robotics news
In case you were still celebrating last week’s Super Bowl victory by the Patriots, here are our favorite articles from the week. As always, give these a read so I can increase my page view counts!