Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pick bots.

Here in California every time the immigration debate comes up people freak out because there will be no one to slave away in the fields. People said - you will never get Americans to do these jobs. And to be honest, I was somewhat skeptical. But we went through a giant knarly recession, and you know how many Americans went to work in the fields? Almost none.

This exact same thing is happening in other parts of the economy and people don't even realize it. Robots will pick up that slack. Take for instance stocking shelves.

People freak out left and right about this happening. But be honest - of what career value does stocking shelves give these days? If I'm 16 or whatever, why would I choose to stock shelves when I could get a job that requires computer skills. Stocking shelves is essentially the supermarket equivalent of picking vegetables in the fields.

Most people think that these shelf stocking jobs will just disappear, but robots are not humans. They need human support to do their robotey stuff. Instead, these jobs will just become something else. Someone needs to catalog pictures so these bots can do their job. And honestly, cataloging pictures is at least is a better skill set than shelf stocking.

So, I don't really understand why people don't embrace this a little more. Don't we really want people to gain more skills for our modern world? Forcing people to do these jobs only makes it so people are stuck in the past career wise with low paying jobs.

People are going to need to care for that robot and maintain it. That is a skillset that the next generation is going to need. That is my general rant about robots and modernism.

I guess companies have finally figured out that grasping is sort of overrated. So they are using something like a factory sucker to pick items up. Everybody apparently has to have an robotic arm again. And when I told Mr S. about this, he was like - really? That's so 10 years ago. Which made me laugh because I didn't even take pictures of any of them because that is what I thought.

Robotics just isn't moving as fast as people like to think. I mean, they've basically managed to miniaturize a robotic manufacturing arm so it doesn't kill people. And that is great, but they've been working on this a long time now. It isn't exactly novel.

The only real new thing I learned is that 360 cameras are being used more than lidar.  I don't think I saw a lidar rig on this thing at all. Lidar has some blind spots, so it only makes sense.


  1. Capital of Texas RefugeeSunday, October 01, 2017 9:34:00 PM

    This just looks clunky and slow, and I don't see how this company will ever make a profit. I wouldn't give them any of my money "for investment," that's for sure.

    In terms of process control, which is the sort of thing I know, it's all freaky and odd-shaped stuff that they're doing. There's no regularity to any of this that would make any of it run super-fast.

    I'm waiting for stores to get a redesign so all of the food's already loaded on micro-pallets that snap into place inside the store shelves. You just pull your cans of soup out of the little holders for them and that sort of thing. Shelving densities improve because everything's measured to go into standard sized slots, so you can get more into the store despite having space for the holders/caddies.

    Racking and stacking the groceries then takes maybe an hour for everything to flow at a safe enough speed out of the trucks where it's auto-sorted by some sort of laser-tagging system. Do it right and the store never has to close -- it'll stay open 24/7 all year, even on Christmas and Thanksgiving if they want it.

    Higher capacities, faster restock, faster scanning = fewer stores required.

    It just makes more sense.

    The first company that figures out that it's how stores are designed that's broken will eventually clean up at this, and it won't involve so much of this robot stuff. It'll look more like airport baggage handlers made super-small.

    Personally I'm waiting for neighborhood grocery trucks: they're like food trucks, but instead of serving hot meals and drinks, they roll up with groceries already racked and stacked for quick resupply at the mothership.

    Why waste space for a store in an unsafe neighborhood when you can have a few armed security guards escort this thing into a place where that's the only local shopping option?

    Seriously, who's going to be stupid enough to build a new grocery store in Ferguson now? How 'bout Baltimore? Detroit, anyone?

    And when your local grocery has been flooded because of a hurricane, you'd still have a place to shop for essentials.

    This weird "pick bot" though is not the future ...



  2. Surprisingly - it wasn't. If I'd seen just a picture of it I would have thought that too. It literally took two seconds to get the arm in place and pick an item up. So fast that I had a really hard time trying to get a non blurry shot with an item in it's sucker.

  3. Capital of Texas RefugeeTuesday, October 03, 2017 4:45:00 PM

    Two seconds is still incredibly slow.

    It just looks fast.

    Think about how long it'll take to restock one section of a shelf, let alone a whole shelf or a whole rack.

    The burly guy with a pallet jack isn't worrying about his job yet.