Recently in…Robotics

It’s been a long week and you deserve to talk about stuff that interests you – like robots and space and Godzilla. Each Friday, our “Recently in…” series will take you into the weekend with a handful of current events from the worlds of design, engineering, and tech culture.

The goal is to arm you with mainstream news to fend off potential dull conversations and awkward silences lurking around every corner until Game of Thrones begins on Sunday night. This week, we’ll help you break the ice with four stories in Robotics covering hexrotor drone DJs playing the hits, robot politeness, dairy farmer bots, and a robotics employment study that might make you think about dusting off the old resume.

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t play Piano Man.

Founded by UPenn grads Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, KMel Robotics wants to push the limits of experimental robotics. In their latest test, KMel’s hexrotors cover the sci-fi and pro wrestling classical music favorite, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” No word on whether “Mr. Roboto” will be on a future playlist or if playing it will cause a tear in the fabric of space and time.

KMel Hexrotors Play the Hits

Can we teach robots to have manners? 

In what could be a step toward fulfilling Asimov’s three laws of robotics, the University of British Columbia’s Open Roboethics Initiative signed up a Willow Garage PR2 for finishing school. Researcher Ajung Moon programmed the robot to politely interact with humans while waiting for an elevator. You won’t believe what happened next. Well, actually you will. The robot followed its programming and did not purposely injure any humans in the experiment. The next question: can robots teach people to be human again?

University of British Columbia’s ORi Project

And on his farm he had a ROBOT! R2, 3PO 

credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

New York State’s O.A. Borden and Sons Inc. has been operated by seven generations of the Borden family. The farm’s next generation operators bear little resemblance to the rest of the family – because they’re robots. The Bordens use the robots to feed and milk cows. Thus far, the move to automation has produced a greater yield, improved animal conditions and, in what has to be a top-five quote of all-time, improved farmer/bovine relations.

“Most milking parlors, you see, you really only see the back end of the cow,” Mr. Borden’s father, Tom, said. “I don’t see that as building up much of a relationship.

 That’s good advice for almost every business. One final bonus, Mr. Borden’s nephew now has plenty of time to visit Tosche Station to pick up power converters. The three-minute accompanying video to this article is not to be missed.

They took err jerbs! Are you at risk from robot labor? 

Is your job safe?
Is your job safe?

Quartz took research from the University of Oxford’s study, “The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?” and created this handy, 22-industry guide to gauging your risk of losing work to a toaster. Luckily, engineers are fairly safe according to the scale. The good news for those not so fortunate: with automated resume builders, you won’t have to waste time updating your CV. Sooner or later, all of our resumes will just say battery anyway.

There’s a reason famous androids the likes of Rosie, Marvin and H.E.L.P.eR. resonate with fans: they’re essentially here to make our lives better. Granted, they all experience varying degrees of success. However, Aldebaran Robotics’ Nao is making the helper-bot a reality – especially for the elderly and those with learning disabilities. This video, featuring Aldebaran designers and founder/CEO Bruno Maisonnier, demonstrates how Aldebaran uses SOLIDWORKS and its Simulation and EPDM products to design the robots that serve man (and not like Kanamits from The Twilight Zone).

Nao this is Robotics

Mike Fearon

Mike Fearon

Senior Manager Brand Offer Marketing, Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS. Video game world champion and whisky advocate. I like turtles.