Robots are on the march! They aren’t taking over, or replacing workers, yet. However, I just read three news items that show robots are on their way to doing just that.
Item #1 – The California fast food burger chain Caliburger has installed Flippy, a burger flipping robot to cook their fresh burgers. The corporation says human fry cooks quit too often. Flippy can flip as many as 2,000 burgers a day. A human prepares the burger patties, seasons them and adds them to Flippy’s tray for frying. Flippy puts them on the grill and monitors their temperature, flips them, and then removes them for the next step. A human then places the patties in their buns. Caliburger doesn’t think this is replacing humans, but making Flippy just part of their cooking team.
Item #2 – The Russians aren’t currently rattling their sabers, but they are showing off their T-14 Armata Tank. It will compete with our M1A3 Abrams. The Russian tank has a slightly larger cannon, but what really sets it apart is the automatic loading system. U.S. tank experts think tank crews can load faster than the robotic system, and believe that miss-fires can be handled better by human hands. One is reminded of the AK-47, which is a fantastic weapon because the assault rifle can be dropped in the mud or sand, or just be dirty and rusty . . . and it still fires. It doesn’t have close tolerances. Within a small contained space as in a tank, it would seem like there would be closer tolerances and a need for reliability, which makes you wonder how the T-14 will hold up . . . and if it is planned primarily for robotic warfare. In the mean time, President Putin says the tank could work even on Mars, which would seal the deal for robots.
Item #3 – Uber announced that in Arizona they have been using self-driving trucks for months. They are using a combination of human and robotics to transport and delivery products. “The idea is that a regular semi will pick up a delivery load from a shipper and drive it to a transfer hub. There, one of Uber’s self-driving trucks, and a safety driver, will take the trailer and transport it over the longest leg of the trip. Once the truck nears the delivery destination, it will again head to a transfer hub where a conventional truck and driver will pick up the trailer and take it to its final stopping point.” – www.yahoo.com/tech/uber-self-driving-trucks-making-042900435.html
A Pew Research Center study done in late 2017 “finds that many Americans anticipate significant impacts from various automation technologies in the course of their lifetimes – from the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles to the replacement of entire job categories with robot workers.” – www.pewinternet.org/2017/10/04/automation-in-everyday-life/
I think the avalanche is not that far away when humans will be eased out of jobs. I don’t think we can fight progress, so we must prepare for the future now. It will overtake us whether we are ready for it or not. Every day something new in robotics happens . . . sometimes threefold.