Tag Archives: robotics

Meet Zora, the Robotic Caregiver

Aging is a fact of life. No matter how hard we try to fight it, the years keep adding up and our bodies keep aging. According to MIT’s Age Lab, the world is currently at a historical high of more than 600 million people over the age of 65! By the year 2030, there will be an estimated one billion people over 65, growing to 1.6 billion by 2050.

This growth, while affecting the entire globe, is of primary importance in wealthy countries where spending by and for this age group is in the trillions of dollars. The aging population will also require more caregivers than ever before. But there is a shortage of such people. Creative solutions are needed to address the gap. What can be done?

Meet Zora, the caregiver robot, now a resident of a number of care facilities in France and Australia. Zora can join with care facility residents for activities such as aerobics, singing, playing games, and reading. Although Zora is small in stature, she speaks an impressive 19 languages. And, Zora cares for children as well as adults. Patients develop an emotional attachment to Zora, holding, kissing, and cuddling the robot. More than 1,000 Zora robots have been sold to hospitals and care facilities; pricing is $18,000 per unit.

Of course, Zora is not a substitute for a trained human caregiver or health care worker, but she sure makes people smile!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of robotics. Where is it going? Who will benefit?
  2. Show Zora the robot: http://zorarobotics.be/index.php/en/
  3. Videos can be found at Zora’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbT8GS9L_IdYvpCeNRd2gVg
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. 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?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?

Source: Satariano, A., Peltier, E., & Kostyukov, D. (23 November 2018). Meet Zora, the robot caregiver. New York Times.

 

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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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