Consumer Robotics Show

The show has always been weird. That isn't an indictment of the show itself, but a comment on the state of robotics generally. The organization behind the show dropped the name Consumer Electronics Show a number of years ago, but it is still very much about consumer technologies.

Consumer has been difficult to crack for reasons of pricing, scale and unpredictability. Over the past decade-plus, robotic vacuums have been the only consistent feature at the show.

I wrote a piece about companies taking baby steps toward homerobots at the show in 2020. The first person I quoted in the piece was Labrador Systems co-founder/CEO Mike Dooley, who told me that there are fewer fakerobots this year.

The word "fake" is loaded in this context. It is also not wrong. For the foreseeable future, the platform for fake robotics will continue to be at the Consumer Electronics Show. The main reason is that robots are an easy way of seeing sci-fi. The metaverse is a collection of things like flying cars, space and now robots. If you want a shorthand way of telling the world that your company has its head in the clouds in the most pragmatic way, you walk out.

There is a big, gaping hole between science fiction and that year's umpteenth robot vacuum. Companies are filling in the gap. The role of startups in this has been important. The role played by automotive companies is important.

I wrote a 10-year piece reflecting on the biggest trends of the year. The shift the show has made away from things like handsets and toward other industries is something that struck me. Carmakers have a big role to play in all of this, both in terms of how they use robotics in the manufacturing process and also the role these technologies play in the future of the companies.

The image is from theHyundai

The combined press conference of Boston Dynamics andHyundai grabbed the biggest headlines from the robotics world. The show rode the line in an interesting way. Boston Dynamics has always taken a pragmatic approach to robotics. The products the company showcases are very real, even though they look like science fiction to many.

It was a contrast to the fanciful ideas put forth byHyundai. It was strange to watch a video of Spot hanging out on Mars as a real-worldavatar for a family cruising through the metaverse. Boston Dynamics has suggested many jobs for its quadrupedal robot over the years, but I don't know if it was the one for the Martianavatar. I asked Raibert how the acquisition of Hyundai will affect the approach to making robots, which has been aggressive but practical.

The presentation last night was a bit on the fanciful side. What impact will the acquisition have on Boston Dynamics?

It is early days, six months. On the other hand, there seems to be a commitment to keep doing what we're doing. I think you will see that we are doing things in an enhanced state and continue to do so. We are going to do Atlas, Stretch and Spot. There is more investment going into that. Productization and research are done in Atlas. I will call it Boston Dynamics because we will add additional robots. We are also starting some projects while that is going on.
The company is calledHyundai. We are talking to all of the different companies. We are not sure who all of the partners will be, but we are planning to have a robust set of interactions. I don't think thatHyundai will say, "Stop being who you are." Something different is what you should be. They have been very enthusiastic about us continuing. We have been an R&D company for a long time. I think they see value in that and they will continue investing in that, so we can continue the legacy as well as the commercial side of things.

He was enjoying himself during the event. It's an ideal position for a lifelong roboticist, because it's suddenly seeing a lot of resources from new corporate owners looking to deliver the moon and stars. Raibert mentioned that Mars is still a ways off for Spot.

The image is from theHyundai

The Personal Mobility PnD plug and drive plaftform is a proposal/concept that the company would show, according to the VP and head of Robotics Lab at the company. We are stuck with some far out videos.

We had fun before we moved on from Boston Dynamics. We worked for years with Sony Aibo, making ones you have never seen, but were more capable, in the company's past flirations with the home/consumer market. The latest Aibo was a very cool piece of machinery, but you have to wonder how a pet Boston Dynamics dog would have looked. If I had to guess, it would be less cute and more technologically impressive. It should have figured out how to open doors.

UV-C disinfecting robots are the big thing on the robotics front at the moment. It makes sense on the face of it. It is a way to leverage existing indoor mapping/navigation technologies with a major hot button topic during the Pandemic. The list includes some things.

The image is from UBTech.

ADIBOT comes in two models. The company says that BOTADI-A is a fully-loaded, autonomously-guided, disinfection solution that can be programmed and mapped to autonomously navigate one or multiple floor plans. ADIBOT-S has a number of features, including UV-C disinfection, a secured app, cloud-based connectivity, and intelligent safety features.
The robot was named after the Disinfecting Light. Hotel guests, students and restaurant customers are the most important people in the world, and hygiene is of the highest priority. Consumers can be reassured that the UV robot will help reduce their exposure to potentially harmful germs.

John Deere acquires Bear Flag Robotics. Bear Flag Robotics is an image.

John Deere's 8R tractor made headlines this week with its arrival. The system, which features six pairs of stereo cameras, a pair of Nvidia Jetson modules and aGPS guidance for fully automated operation, will be available in select parts of the U.S. starting this fall.

Farmers can place seeds, spread nutrients and harvest their crops without having to touch the steering wheel, thanks to precise location-sensing technology. Farming is incredibly mentally and physically exhausting without this self-driving technology. Farmers can use gps technology to look at the real-time data they are collecting during their job and make adjustments.

Labrador Systems is an image.

Labrador showed off a production version of its assistance robot, Retriever. It deals with the real issue of helping older and mobility impaired people live on their own and is one of the more compelling home robots I have seen. It is a robotic shelf that can help people who want to keep living independently.

The $3.1 million seed was co-led by iRobot and Amazon.

I expect a few more to trickle into next week's newsletter, as I'm still crawling through the virtual halls for more interesting robotic co's this week. There is a lightning round/stray thoughts.

The image is from Yukai Engineering.

At the press conference, there are no robots, but the company is talking about sustainable issues. I am all for talking about sustainable issues, but I wonder what this means for the company's robotic ambitions. I don't know how far the extends are beyond showing off some cool demos.
The Nao showed off its robot, which is meant to be used in California fields. Labor issues and the need to reduce the use of pesticides are global challenges. Nao addresses these issues to ensure a sustainable agricultural production in phase with people and the environment.
As it showed off its new robotic camera system, Doosan announced that it has sold 1,000 cobots and raised $33.7 million. The CEO of the company said that they were looking forward to the growth of their business. We will strive to attain the position of number one market share holder in the global cobot market by enhancing the competitiveness of new products and software that are mounted with our proprietary technology.
I would be remise if I did not mention Amagami Ham Ham. I will let the quote speak for itself. The robot uses a special algorithm to randomly pick from two dozenbbling patterns to keep users interested. The company is going to launch a campaign for a robot.

The image is from TechCrunch.

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