What’s New in Robotics? 06.10.2023


News briefs for the week check out robots going from being quick learners to super-fast learners when powered by Large Behavior Models or LBMs, how a lot people can profit from working alongside robots (MIT measured the outcomes), why and the way industrial robots are scrambling for 5G, how Californian agbots are pioneering new agtech and new tutorial programs in agbotics, and, for higher or worse, the return of Shane Wightman and his TikTok robotic barber.


Robots instantly go from quick to extra-fast learners

In the previous 18 months, humanoid and industrial robots have grow to be quick learners utilizing LLMs (massive language fashions) and reinforcement studying. Essentially, it’s all about controlling industrial robots (or any robotic) with language. ChatGPT is one.

toyota-teaching-robots-to-properly-use-their-fingers-without-code-programming_7Now, nevertheless, a latest discovery on the Los Altos, CA-based Toyota Research Institute (TRI) might nicely make robots studying by way of LLMs greater than a bit passé. LBMs (Large Behavior Models) have supplanted LLMs for instructing. TRI calls its new generative AI expertise (developed at the side of MIT and Columbia University) Diffusion Policy.

“It’s outstanding how briskly it really works,” says TRI CEO and Chief Scientist Gill Pratt. “In machine learning, up until quite recently there was a tradeoff, where it works, but you need millions of training cases. When you’re doing physical things, you don’t have time for that many, and the machine will break down before you get to 10,000. Now it seems that we only need dozens.”

Researchers at TRI are utilizing Diffusion Policy to rapidly train robots new, dexterous expertise by “building large behavior models for robots, analogous to the large language models that have recently revolutionized conversational AI.”

Previous state-of-the-art strategies to show robots new behaviors have been sluggish, inconsistent, inefficient, and sometimes restricted to narrowly outlined duties carried out in extremely constrained environments. Roboticists wanted to spend many hours writing subtle code or utilizing quite a few trial and error cycles to program behaviors.

TRI has already taught robots greater than 60 tough, dexterous expertise utilizing the brand new strategy, together with pouring liquids, utilizing instruments, and manipulating deformable objects. These achievements have been realized with out writing a single line of recent code. The solely change was supplying the robotic with new information.

In a brand new video [see video], TRI exhibits off how its AI robotic was in a position to grasp complicated duties in a matter of hours, one thing that many beforehand thought unattainable.



Human advantages from working with robots

In what looks as if a reversal to the notion of “lights out manufacturing with little to no human staff, a latest MIT Sloan School examine appears to have turned again the tide on the advantages of human-robot collaboration.

Manish Walia, writing in TechExpert places it plainly: “The idea of having a factory that runs completely automatically, without any workers, just using machines and maintenance, hasn’t worked out. A lot of things that happen in a factory need human creativity, learning, and the ability to adjust.”

Wu-Robots-1290x860-1“The integration of robots that comprehend human dynamics accelerates task execution and minimizes unproductive intervals,” say the authors of MIT’s How Robots Can Enhance Performance Management for Humans.

Interestingly, human-robot collaboration is extra essential in manufacturing than beforehand thought. The examine highlights “the transformative potential of cohesive human-robot teamwork.” Robots adapting to human cues result in a rise and enchancment in effectivity. Plus, the belief of an 85% discount in idle time is especially outstanding.

In addition, the report says “the adoption of robots is improving companies’ ability to recognize and reward good employee performance.”

“We have found,” write the authors, “that firms that undertake robots enhance their capability to measure human efficiency.

As robots are more and more being integrated into the workforce, one sudden profit is the flexibility to raised assess the efficiency of their human counterparts on a person stage.

“Based on their research, the authors describe how having humans and robots work side by side can help busy managers more easily measure and improve workers’ performance and identify and reward top contributors.”

That, in fact, could be a double-edged sword for staff who might really feel they’re being spied upon in some form of new-age Taylorism.

Industrial robots scramble for 5G

Industrial robots in factories and warehouses are shoppers on the hunt for extra, as in additional electrical energy and extra Internet.

Nick Leonard, senior vp of product for Norfolk, Va.-based logistics software program supplier SVT Robotics, stated: “Often sites are running essentially their phone infrastructure or just basic Internet for email browsing.”

Leonard explains additional that “upgrading a warehouse’s Internet can be as simple as calling the internet provider to increase the bandwidth or as complicated as installing fiber-optic cable lines, antennas, and server rooms, depending on the type of automation being added and the existing connections.”

RollerTopGuide-photography-product-fetch-robots-with-workers-2-1500x1000-1One factor is for positive, all these autonomous cell robots (AMRs), forklifts and different robotic platforms zipping round large distribution facilities want high-speed Internet so as to operate correctly. A variety of the use circumstances from Industry 4.0, round good manufacturing, logistics, warehouse automation energies and utilities, good grids, and defect detection characterize greater than 60% of the use circumstances for personal 5G

As firms broaden their operations and improve their tools, issues are inclined to get complicated and complex in a rush, like including imaginative and prescient programs, edge computing and different bandwidth-needy expertise.

A latest Wall Street Journal’s headline put it nicely: Where’s the Signal? Warehouse Robots Are Searching for Stronger Internet Connections.

For trade, 5G offers the promise of quicker speeds, decrease latency, and higher potential for unlocking the facility of edge computing — however provided that the units can join.

Telco behemoth, New York-based Verizon has developed a platform (Network Alpha Factory) for migrating tens of millions of consumers to its next-generation networks reminiscent of 5G, Cloud Connectivity, and Fixed Wireless Access — with minimal disruption.

Agbots pioneer each farming and agtech ed

FIRA-Ag-Robotics-Forum-logo-2023Nowhere in America is robotics so rapidly evolving a complete trade because it’s doing with agriculture in Salinas Valley, California. There, everybody, together with farmers, growers, agbot builders, tools producers, state and federal officers, staff’ unions, in addition to academia, are all on the identical web page in the case of automation: We want bigtime assist from robotics…and rapidly!

The International Forum for Agricultural Robotics, or FIRA, simply concluded its Salinas tradeshow with organizations coming from everywhere in the world to display what their robots can do. According to the Western Growers Association, growers and farmers are wanting and shopping for.

Seems nobody in Salinas Valley is anxious about robots taking their jobs.

agricultural-robots-field1In reality, it’s fairly the other because the AgTechX Ed Initiative was there as nicely, which is a statewide effort, led by the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) “to cultivate a future workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate emerging on-farm technology.”

It is well-understood and accepted that staff for stoop labor within the fields and orchards of Salinas Valley are extraordinarily scarce. Agbots are seen as the one long-term reply.

Walt Duflock, who’s the newly employed head of innovation with the Western Growers Association, sees loads of agbots in proof however not sufficient individuals.

“The future of farming doesn’t just mean technology, it involves the youth of the community as well,” he stated throughout FIRA. “We better get some kids who can build these robots, service these robots, take care of these robots, not just at the manufacturing plant but here in the fields. We’re working on a community college program state-wide that will train all these kids on the new stuff. Going to take us a while, but we’re starting it.”

Duflock is working towards Salinas changing into a hotbed for brand spanking new robotic options.”




TikTok robotic cuts hair, form of

The world first met Shane Wighton and his hairdresser robotic in the course of the COVID shut-in days. Remember? News exhibits had him on because the robotic was snipping his thick locks.

On YouTube, Wighton billed himself as an engineer and named his present Stuff Built Here, which had a YouTube viewers of 17 million. “According to the channel’s description, it is “about taking things that you can buy anywhere and making them yourself to save money.”

Well, now he’s again, with AI and Machine Learning in his promo. Natch, AI and a robotic barber might be even larger than in his YouTube days.

“The Raspberry Pi-powered robotic barber detects and separates hair components utilizing machine studying strategies. It has a pair of scissors for chopping the hair, a suction system for pulling the hair tight, and an adjustable lever that rotates across the head.

“It is supplied with sensors that permit it detect the contours of Wighton’s head so as to make an equal minimize. The machine can separate components of hair and trim it to the specified size, very like a hairdresser. The machine is constructed primarily of off-the-shelf supplies and 3D-printed components.

“While there are concerns regarding the quality of haircuts [see TikTok video] and safety issues, these are expected to be resolved with more technical advancements. The robot barber, like any new technology, will take time to become mainstream, but it is a prospect that cannot be overlooked.”

Here’s hoping. Enjoy the video (it’s humorous…and instructive for beginner robotic builders)




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