Meet Concierge Connie; Sophia, Your Medical Robot; “Joy for All” Robotic Pets; DC Delivery Bots

It’s difficult keeping up with all the advances in robotic technology. On Mach 20, I reported on “DRU” Domino’s Unmanned Pizza Delivery Robot. DRU is on trial in 7 countries.

by Mish

What I did not know was “DRU” has a twin sister about to roam the streets of Washington D.C.

In addition, robotic pet cats for the elderly, Hilton’s “Concierge Connie”, and “Sophia”, your medical robot specialist are all in the news.

Driverless Robots to Hit D.C. Sidewalks

A brood of sidewalk drones could be rolling around the nation’s capital within a year, if a D.C. Council member has her way.
Executives from Starship Technologies, with roots in Estonia and London, say their goal is to unleash a platoon of “smart, friendly robots” that will ply sidewalks along with pedestrians to make local deliveries of groceries or small packages “almost free.”
Councilwoman Mary Cheh and company officials sought to make a splash by promising one of the squat vehicles on Wednesday would deliver legislation to the council authorizing self-driving delivery robots. The little white device, which looks like an ice chest rolling on six wagon wheels, did indeed scoot its way into Council Secretary Nyasha Smith’s office with the three-page bill in its compartment and reporters on its tail.
Allan Martinson, Starship’s chief operating officer, who saw some 6,000 firms as a venture capitalist before deciding to join the robotic delivery startup. This is no phantom product that will have fizzled in a year, he said.
As for run-of-the-mill thieves and vandals, Martinson said he’s not worried. A hitchhiking robot was destroyed in Philadelphia last year, bumming out the Canadian researchers who built it. But Starship’s machines have 9 cameras, stream live video back to their base, and can easily call for police, or other, backup, Martinson said.
We can send other robots in the area. They would come to help the robot in distress,” Martinson said.

Robots Helping Robots in Distress?

Color me skeptical on that one, especially at the speed of these things. Down the road, who knows?

“D.C. Dixie” (my name), meet “DRU”, Domino’s Robotic Unit, your unmanned pizza delivery robot.

Should “D.C. Dixie” be attacked, “DRU” will come to the rescue offering food and drinks, perhaps even oil replacement and a lube job.

More seriously, will flying drones will win the battle of the delivery robots, or is there’s a place for both?

Meet Concierge Connie

“Connie is a friendly and learning robot that can answer questions through sorting evidence. This robot can answer typical hotel guest questions like where to dine, what services the hotel offers and it can even talk about tour packages. (Photo:IBM)”

Scientists have predicted that jobs intended for humans will soon be conquered by machines — well, Hilton Hotels has already started using robots. Considered the first of its kind, Connie is a friendly robot concierge developed by IBM.
Named after the hotel chain’s founder, Conrad Hilton, Connie is a 2.5-foot-tall Aldebaran Nao robot equipped with IBM Watson and WayBlazer intelligence. As a result, it is capable of answering dozens of routine questions that are usually asked to front desk officers like where to dine, arrangement of tours and which transportation to use.
“We’re focused on reimagining the entire travel experience to make it smarter, easier and more enjoyable for guests,” said Jonathan Wilson, vice president, product innovation and brand services of Hilton Worldwide.
The Hilton robot concierge is equipped with a combination of Watson APIs like Dialog, Speech-to-Text, Text-to-Speech and Natural Language Classifier. It can answer a wide array of questions typically asked by new guests like hotel amenities, hours of operation, services and tour packages.
The robot is a “learning” robot, which means that with more guest interactions, the more it absorbs pieces of information, develops its answers and adapts to all questions asked. The hotel staff can also access the robot’s database to improve answers and responses.

Meet Sophia, a Hot Robot Beauty Who Agrees to “Destroy Humans”

Medical Daily discusses Sophia, The Robot And Future Health Care Worker, who makes her debut at SXSW Interactive.

Move over, Cher and Madonna. Within the pantheon of one-name only celebrities, Sophia has arrived, making her debut at SXSW Interactive earlier this month. According to all reports, she was a success, charming her way into all nearby hearts. Like any starlet, though, she made a misstep or two. When playfully asked if she wanted to destroy humans, she unhesitatingly responded, “OK, I will destroy humans.
Sophia is a robot, created by Dr. David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics, which, according to its website, aims to bring to the market “the most compelling and engaging humanlike robots with greater-than-human wisdom, that are capable of developing a deep, trusted relationship with people.”
The destruction of mankind aside, Sophia certainly appears trustworthy enough at least in most ways. After all, Hanson and his team designed her and others of her kind to serve in health care, therapy, education, and customer service jobs.
“My preference is to make them always look a little bit like robotics so you know,” Hanson said. “Twenty years from now, I believe that human-like robotics like this will walk among us. They will help us, they will play with us, they will teach us, they will help us put the groceries away.”

Carls’ Jr. CEO Discusses All Robot Restaurants

We all know “why?” but let’s dive into the article anyway.

Inspired by fully-automated restaurant Eatsa, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder said that he is thinking about putting up a restaurant where all workers are robots instead of humans.
Eatsa has very few employees working as kitchen staff as all front-of-house processes are computerized, which allows customers to order and enjoy their meals without seeing a single person the whole time. Because there are only a few employees on the payroll, the restaurant is able to make investments in healthier food items.
In an interview with Business Insider, Puzder said that he would like to try out something similar, such as an all-natural product restaurant that will allow customers to order from a kiosk and pay through their credit card or debit card. Customers will then be able to receive their food without seeing a single person.
“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” Puzder said, referring to the rising minimum wages across the United States. The CEO added that automation will become more prevalent due to this, with more locations including airports, grocery stores and restaurants to resort to automation.
Puzder has previously written articles regarding his views on increasing minimum wage, with the CEO criticizing the push for higher limits. According to him, the higher minimum wage limits will not be relevant if companies will be forced to hire fewer workers due to such changes, which would lead to higher unemployment rates.
“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” Puzder said.
Moving towards automation will not be easy, Puzder concedes, especially in the more complicated kitchen processes. However, for tasks such as taking orders, robots could do even better jobs than humans.

“This is not rocket science.” Those who claim higher minimum wages do not hurt job growth are simply out of their mind.

Joy for All Pets

Hasbro’s “Joy for All” robots will not destroy humans but instead will snuggle up affectionately. No litter box, just love, complete with VibraPurr.

I believe it’s safe to say we all know where this “Joy for All” technology is headed.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock