Earlier this week, Google X, the Internet giant’s research arm, announced the latest step in Google’s self-driving car project: build about 100 prototype vehicles that resemble the Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Marvin the Paranoid Android (Freeze? I’m a car. I’m not a refrigerator) and begin early-stage testing this summer (they must have planned the announcement after last week’s concept car driven Recently in).
Automation is going to follow us from the road to our homes and jobs – hopefully making our personal and professional lives easier along the way. This week, we’ll look at automation at home, on the road and on the job-site.
Just press play is moving beyond the entertainment industry. If Google X can make self-driving cars a reality, pressing a start button could drive you to your destination (I advise consulting Google Maps Street View to avoid weirdness before handing over the reins). Self-driving cars have the potential to eliminate human-driving errors, which would presumably cut down on traffic and accidents. However, are we really ready to hand over our keys, surrender our steering wheels and part ways with the gas pedal?
First, there was an app for that. Now, Apple is going to have an appliance for that. Not to be passed by in the connected home market, Apple is readying a major connected home announcement at its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 2 in San Francisco. Speculation is that Apple will convert the iPhone into a home command center capable of controlling lights, entertainment systems (Apple TV), alarms and potentially any connected gadget, robotic pet or protocol droid under your roof.
While manufacturing the Roomba, Rethink Robotics founder Rodney Brooks realized that manufacturing was lagging in automation technology. Brooks’ solution materialized in the form of Baxter: an industrial robot specializing in production line tasks, such as materials handling, loading, unloading, and sorting. Baxter was designed to work safely alongside humans, unlike legacy machines that are large and unsafe for human interaction (like Bender models). Baxter’s latest achievement comes from education – it’s getting smarter. The robot is learning thanks to software upgrades, which are being implemented in a similar fashion to phone and computer OS updates. If Baxter wasn’t cool enough already, its actuators went from sketch to physical parts in under a week thanks to SOLIDWORKS!
Think about how much we struggle to open hard plastic packaging: scissors, sharp edges, plastic cuts, oh my! I, for one, am glad that I don’t have to create containers. Thankfully Gerhard Schubert, the world’s preeminent packager, is revolutionizing the packaging industry on our behalf. Schubert uses customized machines built from standard components that can package everything from underwear to beer to chocolate bunnies.
To learn more about Gerhard Schubert’s design team and how they use SOLIDWORKS, watch the full video series on Born to Design.