Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Globe Gives You a Hand

They stuck a limb out yesterday:

Robots taking over in warehouses" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff  May 01, 2017

Yup, it's a "big deal for the global warehousing industry and the economy of Massachusetts as “Amazon has created an arms race,” and many of the key arms merchants are located in the Boston area to develop a roving robot that accompanies workers."

Robotic warehouse gear has been in use for decades, but machines today use cameras, radios, and other sensors, along with a digital map of their surroundings, to find merchandise and avoid hitting people or obstacles.

“We’re able to map warehouses the same way autonomous cars can find their way through the streets,” said 6 River cofounder Rylan Hamilton.

They want to MAP the WORLD, including your car and bedroom.

Of course, those cars are having problems.

The warehouse robot sector is another booming facet of Massachusetts’ already muscular robotics industry, which includes military and nautical robot builders, as well as iRobot Corp., with its popular Roomba automated vacuum cleaners.

The Roomba spy sweeping things up!

Warehouse robots may be the unglamorous cousins of the robot family — until you look at the bottom line. Companies are using robots to keep up with the relentless pace of Internet retailing. Before Amazon, consumers expected to wait weeks for mail-order items.

“Amazon came in and said, no, that’s all wrong,” said Vecna founder Daniel Theobald.

Now we expect to get our items within days or even hours.

“Logistics is the key to a good customer experience,” said Theobald.

If robots replace us all you won't have any customers!!!

But logistics is brutally expensive. Amazon spent $16.2 billion on shipping costs last year. Robots could go a long way toward helping Amazon and its rivals slash their shipping bills.

Robots are taking on multiple roles inside warehouses. Kiva’s robots can lift and move an entire stack of shelves to a shipping station where a human worker extracts the needed items.

Vecna has new robots that resemble automated forklifts that hoist pallets of merchandise, and tractor-like vehicles that pull carts of goods.

No need for those guys anymore.

6 River and Locus specialize in smaller robots that roam the aisles of a warehouse, working in cooperation with humans. A computer displays the order for the human worker, who puts the item into a bin on the robot and sends the machine on to the next worker, and so on until it’s ordered to the shipping area. 

Not for long.

Meanwhile, in Somerville, another new company called RightHand Robotics is exploring the final frontier of automated warehousing — picking and packing individual items for shipping to customers. RightHand Robotics has tackled perhaps the toughest challenge in the industry: building a robotic hand that can reach into a bin that is full of merchandise and pick individual items out for shipment.

Got bad news for you.... you're fired!

Founded by researchers from Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, RightHand has created RightPick, a three-fingered mechanical hand that attaches to a standard-issue robotic arm and uses video cameras to “see” items in a warehouse storage bin. The RightPick uses its gripping fingers and a suction tube to pick up items and drop them into another bin for shipping. In one demonstration video, the hand is shown inserting items into packages for mailing. Such a system could ship small items like medicines or cosmetics from warehouse to customer with little or no human assistance.


I hope there are no glitches and all the orders are picked correctly.

Automation in many forms has displaced many American jobs, and the warehouse industry is a big employer: a quarter-million workers. But RightHand cofounder Yaro Tenzer argued his company’s invention won’t put people out of work, because so many pick-and-pack jobs in warehouses go unfilled.

“People cannot find enough labor to do these jobs,” said Tenzer. “They call us and say, ‘we cannot fulfill orders. Can you help us?’ ”

Uh-huh. Just told me halfway through article was about costs. These are all crap excuses the globalists are throwing at you because of long-term and future unemployment. Yup, plenty of jobs not enough people -- and yet the illegals and H1-Bs keep pouring in.

Indeed, Chris Elliott, a senior consultant for Blue Horseshoe, a warehousing consultancy in Westerville, Ohio, said many warehouses are built in rural areas or small towns where land is cheap, but people are scarce. And warehouse work is so tedious that worker turnover is high.

“It’s not necessarily that there is a labor shortage,” said Elliott. “It’s having the right labor in the right place.”

(Blog editor just shakes head at the never-ending, $elf-$erving rationalizations)

But with robots getting cheaper and better, Elliot predicted they will first supplement, and then eventually supplant, human labor. It won’t happen overnight, but “there’s going to be a lot of people who’ll be displaced,” said Elliott. “It’s going to be a disruption.”


How many people do you see in that photo? Must be a surreal experience for her.

Time to take a Paxil?

As for hands, looks like the health problems connected with this job are again creeping up after a pain-free six months. If only there was a robot who could type for me.