Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘robotics

Robots Never Die

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I have personally been looking forward to the age of robots and artificial intelligence. Despite all the advances we’ve made in science and technology in the last few centuries, we seem to still be on the verge of living in a populist, nationalist, non-science driven dystopia.

I want my robots.

But I’m not apparently going to be getting them from Anki, a “once-hot” robotics startup that is shutting down after raising more than $200M.

Recode’s coverage indicated that close to 200 employees of the company would be paid a week of severance, and that CEO Boris Sofman had told employees the company was scrambling to find more money after a new round of financing fell through.

Anki had produced consumer robots like “Cozmo,” but had also raised what Recode described as “serious money” from the likes of Andreesen Horowitz.

The company said in a statement to Recode that it was left “without significant funding to support a hardware and software business and bridge to our long-term product roadmap.”
“Despite our past successes, we pursued every financial avenue to fund our future product development and expand on our platforms,” a company spokesperson said. “A significant financial deal at a late stage fell through with a strategic investor and we were not able to reach an agreement. We’re doing our best to take care of every single employee and their families, and our management team continues to explore all options available.”

Anki robots had been popular at stores like Toys R Us, but had more recently attempted to pivot from toys to a “developed robotics” company based on AI.

Company employees were being given only a week of severance pay. As for the company robots still lying around? I hope somebody removed their power source!

Written by turbotodd

April 30, 2019 at 9:16 am

Posted in 2019, AI, startups

Tagged with , , , ,

Bring in the Robots

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China’s Shenzhen-based AI and humanoid robotic company Ubtech has raised a Series C worth some $820 million according to TechNode China, a sum that sets a new financing record for the largest investment raised in a single round by an AI firm.

Ubtech’s self-proclaimed mission is to “bring the robot into every home, and truly integrate intelligent robots into the daily lives of everyone creating a more intelligent way of life.”

Yes, but can Ubtech’s robots do my laundry and take out my trash?

The new funding round was led by none other than Tencent, but also included a host of other investors ranging from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to Telstra. 

Ubtech founder and CEO Zhou Jian said the new round of funding has brought in invaluable investors and the investment will be dedicated to facilitating Ubtech’s future commercialization plans. Zhou said the investment will be used in three main areas including R&D, market expansion/branding, and recruitment.

The company said it will devote more resources to developing adult-sized humanoid robots and will focus particularly on the R&D of servo systems used in robotics, movement control algorithms for walking, and computer vision.

The company is already offering a $299.99 “StormTrooper” Robot that allows one to use voice commands and facial recognition to…well, it seems you get to define the mission.

May the robotic force be with them….oh, and Happy Star Wars Day!

Written by turbotodd

May 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Posted in 2018

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Robotic Confusion

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Have you watched the new “Lost in Space” series on Netflix?

Danger, Will Robinson!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.  It’s good stuff.

But, I must say, I’m now all confused about this whole robotic thing.

Now because of the new Netflix series.  

No, rather, because I keep hearing loads of contradictions about what’s going on with the whole machine versus man convo.

On the one hand, I hear that robots are going to take over the world and leave us mere mortals sitting around in a depressed malaise, complaining about how the robots took all our jobs.

And then on the other, I learn that robots are “riding to the rescue” in Eastern Europe, where severe labor shortages have forced companies to call in the machines.

Perhaps both these things are true, and that’s the real warning about our future?  We just don’t know.

Two stories in particular struck me as resonant with this apparent contradiction.

First, in The New York Times, this headline: Robots Ride to the Rescue Where Workers Can’t Be Found. 

The lede: Fast-growing economies in Eastern Europe have led to severe labor shortages, so companies are calling in the machines.

As reported, despite a roaring economy and a jobless rate of just 2.4 percent, in the Czech Republic the dearth of manpower has limited the ability of Czech companies to expand and nearly a third of them have started to turn away orders.

Jaroslav Hanak, the president of the Czech Confederation of Industry, explained that “It’s becoming a brake on growth…If businesses don’t increase robotization and artificial intelligence, they’ll disappear.”

And apparently this in an Eastern Europe that is already well automated, with around 101 robots for every 10,000 workers.

But then there’s this other story: That Elon Musk is replacing robots at his Tesla factory with humans, saying that “humans are underrated.”

This is the same guy who warned us about the coming AI apocalypse.

But because his Tesla Model 3 production facility is way behind on delivering vehicles to customers who have been waiting for many months, apparently the AI apocalypse is not so close that it will prevent humans from coming in to fix the problem that the machines caused in the first place.

As Musk explained on the “CBS This Morning” show to Gayle King in a recent interview: “We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts…And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

And so Musk has now hit “pause” on the Tesla 3 production line to try and resolve those problems with the automation and figure out a way that humans can come in and restart production and, presumably, be more efficient and reach its target of 5,000 cars produced per week by the end of 2018.

As for the robots, they’ll have to get back in their own assembly line and wait to be reassigned.

No danger, Will Robinson.  That is, unless you’re Class B-9-M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot (the Robot’s real name in the original “Lost in Space”).

Written by turbotodd

April 17, 2018 at 10:40 am

Posted in 2018, AI, robots

Tagged with ,

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