Tag Archives: robotics

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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Autonomous Luggage Cart Helps in Airports

Ah, the glamor of travel! Jetting off to exciting places, carrying pounds of luggage and goods… Oh wait, that luggage part isn’t very exciting, in fact, it is downright annoying. How many times have you looked forward to a trip, only to be exhausted and sore from lugging around a bunch of suitcases and bags? Unfortunately, that’s the reality of travel, and it is not glamorous.

But now you can relax a little and enjoy the airport experience more. To help out its weary travelers, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is launching an autonomous, self-driving luggage trolley to guide passengers through the airport and carry their bags. The blue cart (named Care-E) greets passengers once they are past security. The passenger will be prompted to scan a boarding pass and will be guided by Care-E to any location in the airport. And, of course Care-E carries all of the bulky and heavy luggage (up to 85 pounds).

Care-E moves at a human walking pace of 3 miles/hour and uses familiar, nonverbal sounds to interact with passengers. The bright blue self-driving trolley can take passengers directly to their gates, even if the gate has changed.

Air travel is so much better when someone else totes the bags!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What has been their experience travelling with luggage in airports? How could airlines improve this?
  2. Show the Care-E video: https://youtu.be/_Hio_YN77EE
  3. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  4. For air travel, who are KLM’s competitors?
  5. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for airlines.
  6. How can KLM use Care-E to position itself against competing airlines?
  7. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  8. Debrief exercise.

Source: Brandchannel.com, CNN, other news sources

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