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Where Are All the Robots?

robots and automation technology are hereCC 2.0 Image: “future car” by Luke Jones, cropped and sharpened.

Screw the Jetsons, driving yourself around in a flying car is for chumps. Flying cars are still only the stuff of science fiction, but autonomous cars – ones that drive themselves – are a reality. Yes, cars that can sense the environment around them and respond accordingly by accelerating, decelerating, or swerving, are already with us.

This automated vehicle is already in public use in the Netherlands.

Yes, the robots are here, and autonomous cars aren’t even the beginning, or the end. Where else are the robots and business automation tools hiding?

Robots in Our Midst

The fact is that robots and the computers and software that control them are getting smarter.  More automated robotics and services are already here, but mostly in places most of us don’t notice them, like factories and warehouses.

You already know that many armed forces around the world use drones and robot technology. While armed forces around the world are increasing their use of the autonomous functions that drones are capable of, they are still mostly being operated by remote-control rather than being truly autonomous. Letting your robot army roam free is obviously a tough call to make when lives are on the line.

Remote controlled vehicles, whether they use wings, wheels, or legs to move around are not really robots. A true robot can defined as being autonomous in that it performs its tasks without human invervention, and makes judgement calls on what to do next when confronted with an obstacle.

Automation is a Big Deal

It’s the automation of machines and processes that has potential, and lots of businesses are investing heavily in business automation technologies.

You might remember Amazon’s announcement that they were investing in drones for delivery last year.

While that announcement might’ve been a little premature, the fact is that Amazon already has an autonomous robot army. Their current army looks like large hockey pucks that lift and move entire shelves to the packing tables at their warehouses.  Basically they’re robotic forklifts. Look here:

Very Smart People Are Sure of The Robot Apocalypse

Mark Zuckerberg

I think 10 years from now computers will be better than humans at reading, listening, talking, and other things.”

Venturebeat

Elon Musk

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful,”

The Guardian

Stephen Hawkings

“are we taking AI seriously enough?”

The Independent

Bill Gates

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing.”

Business Insider

Drones Playing James Bond

So, Where is My Robot Butler?

Just because you didn’t get the flying car or jetpack of your childhood dreams doesn’t mean the future isn’t here. We’ve got robots my good man. Don’t sulk. Check out this Kuka robot playing ping pong.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Yesterday I wrote that the robots are here, because some people at the office have said autonomous vehicles will be the single most disruptive invention this century. But, if you live in a European city like me, you probably don’t own a car and don’t see what the big deal is. If you’re my colleague Jenn though, you’re crazy depressed at the idea of not being able to drive like a maniac (not that she ever does that). […]

  2. […] machines. Meet the service robot at my local cellphone store: This week we have been talking about robots and automation in a series of blog posts. Despite the many warnings about the dangers of AI from […]

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