Tag Archives: robotics

SpotMini Learns to Dance and Atlas Does Parkour

In an article posted on this blog earlier a few weeks ago, the focus was on the simplicity of innovation. Sure, innovation can often be smooth and simple, such as extending a brand line, or simplifying packaging and pricing. But, what really grabs consumers’ attention is the more imagination-capturing innovation involving high-tech products such as drones, self-driving cars, and of course – robots!

Welcome back our friends SpotMini and Atlas from Boston Dynamics. They’ve both learned new tricks and are excited to show us their accomplishments: dancing and parkour!

While the videos are not typical robot behavior, they do show how robots can be programmed and even autonomously learn new behavior such as jumping over obstacles. While to date, all of its robots have been built individually, Boston Dynamics plans to manufacture hundreds of SpotMinis next year. But, unfortunately for consumers, the robots won’t be sold in the consumer market. The likely industrial markets include construction, commercial security, municipal security, and entertainment.

In the meantime, watch the videos and enjoy the show. (But be warned. Seeing a robot dog twerk can cause lasting damage…)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the principles of innovation.
  2. First, show Spot mini dancing to Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”: https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  3. Next, show Atlas doing parkour: https://youtu.be/hSjKoEva5bg
  4. Finally, this video is an interview with Boston Dynamics about how its videos became YouTube viral sensations: https://video.wired.com/watch/the-story-behind-the-internet-s-favorite-robots
  5. Discuss business-to-business marketing.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team define an industry that SpotMini or Atlas could be sold to.

Source:  Wired, Boston Dynamics

 

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Flippy the Robot: Fast-Food Robotics

Many students (and professors when they were young) have likely worked in the fast-food industry in one capacity or another. Probably the most dreaded jobs there are in the hot and greasy areas of the fryer and grill. However, despite the grease and hours, the unemployment rate for restaurant workers today is the lowest on record (U.S. Labor Department). But, the industry also faces a lot of employee turnover and still requires more workers. So, why not get help in the more undesirable positions?

Give a warm welcome to Flippy the Robot! Engineered by Miso Robotics and now employed at 10 CaliBurger restaurants in California and Dodger Stadium in New York, Flippy is an autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills. Flippy can work at the grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently, can automatically switch tools, cleans, and is OSHA safety compliant.

While some wonder if robotics will lessen the need for human employees, most restaurants need more employees to handle extended hours, increased demand, and provide better customer service. Robotics are intended to help employees, not replace them.

The best part? Flippy never complains about long hours and always shows up for work on time!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of robotics in businesses, including fast-food restaurants.
  2. Poll students: Who has worked in fast-food at fryers or grills? What was the experience like?
  3. Show Miso Robotics videos: https://misorobotics.com/
  4. CaliBurger restaurant: https://caliburger.com/
  5. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  6. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  7. What are key considerations in each step?
  8. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Jargon, J. & Morath, E. (24 June, 2018). Short of workers, fast-food restaurants turn to robots. Wall Street Journal

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Sony’s New Litter of Aibo Robotic Puppies

In the very innovative electronics industry, Sony faces a slew of competitors such as Apple, Samsung, and others. While Sony was once the pinnacle of innovative devices such as the Sony Walkman and Discman, it has been overtaken by industry leaders Apple’s and Samsung’s products including smart phones and devices. Now, Sony is seeking to reestablish itself in the U.S. with its totally charming robotic dog – Aibo (Japanese word for a pal).

Aibo isn’t totally new; it was first released in 1999 and then discontinued in 2006 – to the dismay of many thousands of Aibo owners in Japan. The new litter of Aibo puppies combines robotics with a cloud-connected artificial intelligence (AI) engine and advanced imaging sensors. And, as Aibo interacts with its owners over time, it will develop a unique personality to make owners happy and form bonds with the family members.

Like many real-life puppies, Aibo doesn’t come cheap. It has a price tag of $2,899 which limits how many families can afford to adopt from the new litter. Sony’s goal does not appear to be market penetration, but is instead using the product to show the company’s innovation skills by combining software, hardware, and services, as well as rebuilding brand awareness.

Sony wants to connect with consumers on an emotional level with Aibo. The puppy has more than 400 parts and 22 points of movement, making it move more like a real animal. The eyes are displays so that its gaze can follow its owner around the room, and it can learn doggie tricks like fetch and shake hands by using the Aibo app. Aibo can also take photos and videos to share with the family.

How much is that doggie in the window? 

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss new product innovation and its importance to electronics companies.
  2. Show Aibo Web site: https://us.aibo.com/
  3. Show Video: https://youtu.be/oGo0TwNXXuo
  4. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a product.
  5. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  6. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  7. For Aibo, have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
  8. Debrief by putting together the entire suggested lists on the white board. As a final step, have the entire class vote on the top three tactics to use.

Source:  Tsukayama, H. (23 August 2018). The rebirth of Aibo is also a chance to revitalize Sony’s brand. Washington Post.

 

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