TMO Background Mode Interview with VP of Marketing for Mayfield Robotics Chris Matthews

· · Background Mode Podcast

Chris Matthews on Background Mode.

Chris Matthews is the VP of Marketing for Mayfield Robotics. They make the companion robot called Kuri that was recently shown to our Jeff Gamet at CES 2018. Having been a very interested observer of emerging robot technology, I invited Chris to be on the show. We talked about how Mayfield Robotics was formed, the founders, how the company got its name, the human and engineering design principles behind Kuri, what mistakes were avoided, how Kuri protects family privacy and security, the nuances of Kuri’s physical design, how Kuri communicates with the family, its processing power, the price and the shipping status. Kuri is probably going to be my first family robot, so tune-in as Chris explains how Kuri works in fascinating detail. You may want one too.

This Robot Is Named Justin, and He's Going to Build Houses on Mars

· · Cool Stuff Found

Check out Justin, a robot designed by German space agency DLR (via Wired). Justin is pretty special, starting with the fact that he was designed to make housing and other buildings on Mars. He’s powered by AI that allows him to do things he hasn’t been programmed to do, and he has three fingers and a thumb, each with eight joints, allowing him to handle a wide variety of tools. He can clean and maintain machinery, and in a recent test repaired a solar panel in minutes. Justin can also lift 31 pounds with each arm, which will go even further on Mars, which has a lower gravity. Oh, and he can make coffee and tee, thank you. Wired has more, and it’s very interesting.

This Robot Is Named Justin, and He’s Going to Build Houses on Mars

Check Out This Cool Invention that Could Help Robots (and Other Things) Move More Efficiently

· · Cool Stuff Found

Check out this crazy-cool invention called Inception Drive by Alexander Kernbaum of Stanford Research Institute (SRI), the same organization that developed Apple’s Siri. It’s an actuator, but one that uses a pulley-within-a-pulley to produce an infinitely-variable transmission. This technology could be used to make robots move more efficiently, and perhaps even make them safer. While Mr. Kernbaum’s focus is robotics, his invention could be applied to any number of uses where things move, and that’s just way cool. The IEEE Spectrum has more on the invention, including the video below. I love how Mr. Kernbaum is casually hanging out in a hallway with demo models of something that could change the way humanity’s machines move.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Ecovacs Head of Marketing Christopher Caen

· · Background Mode Podcast

Christopher Caen on Background Mode

Christopher Caen is the Head of Marketing at Ecovacs Robotics, a company well know for its robotic vacuum cleaners and window cleaners. Christopher has a balanced academic background, being both accomplished in English as well as computer science. His first job was as an summer intern at Atari where he worked in marketing, something that immediately appealed to him. Later, at Paramount, he co-founded the Paramount Technology Group which developed interactive programming and games. Christopher’s career-long expertise in marketing took him to Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Informix and NEC. We talked a lot about internet of things (IoT), modern security practices, and how modern IoT products create a business model that requires a new understanding of and relationship to the customer. If you’re interested in robotics and IoT, this is a must listen.

This Robot Will Toss Your Salad for $30,000

· & · Cool Stuff Found

Have you ever prepared a salad and thought to yourself, “I wish a robot could do this!” Well you’re in luck, because a company called Chowbotics Inc. created a salad robot called Sally. The robot is more of a tosser than a chef, as a human must load the device with prepared ingredients. (A word of caution though: the robot apparently can’t handle avocado very well.) It’s main selling point is that the customer can specify their ingredients and even the calorie count of a salad. Plus, the jack-a-nape in front of you doesn’t get to graze on the salad bar with his grimy fingers. The salad robot costs US$30,000 right now and is aimed towards small businesses and grocery stores. Eventually Chowbotics hopes to shrink the technology down to a household-friendly size. Sally is really little more than a stepping stone towards our robot welfare state (as John Kheit says), but it’s interesting to see those steps laid out in front of us.

A Robotics Competition You Should Totally Check Out

· · News

FIRST Steamworks Robotics Competition Logo

If you love robots, there are a bunch of robotics competitions happening across the United States right now. Jeff Butts has all of the details about this steamworks-themed event pitting high school students against the clock and their opponents.

Lorek The Robot And The Future Of AI

· · News

siri robot model

Lorek the robot represents a big step in robotics because it can understand human language, as well as the gestures we make in conversations. Researchers from Brown University pulled off this feat of understanding by programming uncertainty into the robot. Andrew Orr explains why this is a big deal.