After two delightful weeks in Hong Kong and Taiwan to start the New Year, I can't bear to kick off 2019 with how I'm feeling about the perilous state of the union or the future of our planet. So to bring you up to date on the theme of The Piketty Problem, and with minimal snark, here's a light-hearted bulletin on the latest in robotics.
Meet Marty! No, you're not seeing things. Marty is your friendly grocery store robot who along with 500 of his cloned friends, may well be coming to your local Giant or Stop & Shop in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia in the next few months. This high-tech floorwalker is designed to roam the aisles to detect issues such as out-of-stock, product spills, and incorrect shelving. That seems like a great deal of investment for such mundane tasks. My bet is with those big eyes and high-resolution 3D cameras he'll be on the lookout for shoplifters as well. I wonder if he was named after Ernest Borgnine's character in that great movie, "Marty."
Who says Jeff Bezos isn't paying attention to his business? His latest innovation is giving "Amazon Scout" a trial run in Snohomish County, Washington. A fleet of these robots that look like bright-blue coolers on wheels, will be rolling along the sidewalks at a walking pace to deliver Amazon packages right to the customer's door. Drones anyone?
Then there are the Lovots, furry, robotic plush-toys, about eighteen inches high, that are designed to do nothing except be loved. This Japanese lovie recognizes sounds and identifies individual humans. It has wheels to motor around, flippers to show surprise or affection, and a smaller version of Marty's eyes to interact with users while it makes wordless chirping noises. It also laughs when tickled, and will fall asleep if you cradle it in your lap. Unfortunately, its "minimal motor function" means it can't fetch you a beer. Sorry, Judge.
The ways things are going, that may be it for light-hearted this year. Sorry, readers.