Every year we get a peak at the latest and most exciting developments in tech at the Consumer Electronics Show. In many ways, it is the grand showcase for what the best software […]
Thousands in China have been defrauded on dating websites after sending money to robots they believed to be women.
‘I think it’s the men who should be worried’
The Tipsy Robot in Las Vegas is introducing their latest bartenders—two robotic arms. They’re programmed to create your drink precisely and also mimic actions of a bartender. The company claims these robots can make 120 drinks within an hour. But if you’re not into robots, there’s also a human bar available. Read more…
SunFounder’s newest robotics learning kit, the SunFounder Nano DIY 4-DOF Robot Kit, lets you do build and program your own robots and will basically make all your childhood dreams come true. No biggie.
The kit, which goes by the name of Sloth, is compatible with both the included SunFounder Nano board or an Arduino board if you’ve already been tinkering around with one of those. Learn robotics programming as you make Sloth use its two legs to walk, kick, or even dance. It’s equipped with an HC-SR04 ultrasonic landing module, so Sloth can even detect and avoid obstacles. And yes, the kit comes with absolutely all the tools you need, so you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Read more…
Have you ever been too busy to attend to the proper cooking of a steak? Well, lament no more, and warn your cardiologist. A trio of students from Cornell University have designed and built the steak-grilling BeefBot to make your delicious dinner dreams a reality.
[Jonah Mittler], [Kelsey Nedd], and [Martin Herrera] — electrical and computer engineering students — are the ones you should thank for this robot-chef. It works as follows: after skewering the steak onto the robot’s prongs, BeefBot lowers it onto the grill and monitors the internal temperature in a way that only the well-seasoned grillmaster can replicate. Once a set temperature is reached, the steak is flipped — sorry, no crosshatch grillmarks here — and cooked until a desired doneness. A small screen displays the temperature if you want to babysit BeefBot — some manual adjustment may be needed after the steak flip to ensure it is cooking evenly — but it is otherwise a hands-off affair. If you don’t mind salivating over your screen, check out the project demonstration after the break.
At first glance you might think this a YouTube stunt, but this is real science. The writeup is exquisite, from the design and fabrication, to the math behind temperature calibration and regulation. Kudos to the hungry Cornell students who slaved over a hot griddle bringing this one to life!
Now that you’re thinking about dinner, but realizing your grill needs an upgrade, consider turbo charging it! Before that, however, if you keep your food in a deep-freezer, here’s a hack that will let your know if it loses power so you can save your steaks!
Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business?
One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city’s Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there — causing some people to get very upset.
Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, “I’m sorry for being so frank but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.”
I’m sorry for being so frank, but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.
Every time I travel to San Fran my heart breaks from seeing all the homelessness in a city with so much wealth and privilege.
FUND PROGRAMS TO HELP THE HOMELESS, FULL STOP. https://t.co/LaalT3XhTl
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) December 12, 2017
The homelessness issue in S.F. is thorny and complicated. One could get whiplash at seeing the excess of wealth and privilege juxtaposed with the dire circumstances just steps outside Twitter headquarters on Market Street.
However, the city’s homeless are also associated with higher rates of crime, violence and sometimes episodes of psychosis, leading to safety issues that many feel San Francisco has not had an adequate handle on.
The S.F. SPCA rolled out the use of a robot unit dubbed K9 from security startup Knightscope a month ago, citing these same safety concerns.
“Over the summer our shelter was broken into twice. The inside was vandalized and property and cash donations were stolen,” S.F. SPCA spokesperson Krista Maloney told TechCrunch. “Furthermore, many staff members and volunteers have filed complaints about damage to cars and harassment they experienced in our parking lot when leaving work after dark. We currently employ security guards, but we have a large campus and they can only be in one area at a time.
The K9 units are also cheaper than humans. One robot costs $6 an hour to use vs. paying a security guard the average $16 an hour.
“Unfortunately, in the last year we’ve been forced to spend a significant amount of money to ensure the security and safety of the people on our campus as well as the animal in our care,” Maloney said.
And, according to both the S.F. SPCA and Knightscope, crime dropped after deploying the bot.
However, the K9 unit was patrolling several areas around the shop, including the sidewalk where humans walk, drawing the ire of pedestrians and advocacy group Walk SF, which previously introduced a bill to ban food delivery robots throughout the city.
“We’re seeing more types of robots on sidewalks and want to see the city getting ahead of this,” says Cathy DeLuca, Walk SF policy and program director, who also mentioned S.F. district 7 supervisor Norman Yee would be introducing legislation around sidewalk use permits in the beginning of 2018.
Last week the city ordered the S.F. SPCA to stop using these security robots altogether or face a fine of $1,000 per day for operating in a public right of way without a permit.
The S.F. SPCA says it has since removed the robot and is working through a permitting process but already has seen “two acts of vandalism” since the robot’s removal.
But putting permits and public use of sidewalks aside, it seems the robot could do more than just discourage homeless camps. It could keep an eye on the surrounding area and report crimes, yes, but it could also possibly be used to alert police and social workers to areas where homelessness seems to have increased or look for anyone who may be facing violence or a psychotic episode and in need of intervention.
The Knightscope bots are equipped with four cameras able to read more than 300 license plates per minute. They can move about and keep tabs on an area, noting anyone on a list of those who shouldn’t be there.
Already the S.F. SPCA said it has experienced a drop in crime when using the bot cop. Th same might be said if it had increased the use of human security guards but humans, as mentioned above, cost more. They also can’t monitor 24/7 or immediately upload what they see to the cloud.
Further, robots aren’t going away. While it isn’t clear what solution San Francisco’s city council will come up with to handle the increase of these types of bots on our sidewalks in the future, it’s inevitable we’re going to see more of them.
It’s an age-old human vs. machine argument. But machines usually win.