It was just the other day when we saw a video of a mechanical engineer pushing a robot down with a stick and that same robot getting up and continuing its job. That video came out of a robotics company called Boston Dynamics that is owned by the company that owns Google, Alphabet. Then the news came streaming in that Alphabet was looking to sell off its robotics division in an interesting plot twist. On the back of that announcement, Amazon has announced its very own robotics branch named Amazon Robotics. Amazon recently acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million and scheduled a super-secret meeting with media outlets and investors to see what they had been working on in the last four years.
The details of that 'super-secret' meeting have finally been divulged and present an interesting chance for the company to eclipse the recent strides Boston Dynamics has made in creating potential 'helper robots' for households around the world. However, Boston Dynamics being sold off in the fashion that it doesn't inspire confidence in whatever they were building because Alphabet looks uninterested in continuing and probably do not think the company will be profitable.
Amazon Robotics' event was called MARS (Machine learning, home Automation, Robotics and Space exploration). They showed off robots built by UCLA students, and also had Kiva robots that served food and drinks on a mobile table that rode around the event. The photos of the events can be found on BusinessInsider. Both Amazon Robotics and Boston Dynamics are looking into the profitability of potential household robots and will continue to do so wherever the conversation lands up.
In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee will be launching an inquiry into how society will soon be altered by robotics. They will be looking into how it will affect the workplace, how it will affect jobs numbers and more concerns. Recently, Google's DeepMind AlphaGo Artificial Intelligence beat South Korean 'Go' professional Lee Se-dol.
Talking to ZDnet, Nicola Blackwood MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee at the House of Lords, said: "Robots are now beating humans at even the most complex games, like Go. Artificial intelligence will play an increasing role in our lives over the coming years. From navigation systems to medical treatments and from new manufacturing techniques to unmanned vehicles, new applications are rapidly being developed that involved robotic decision making."
Therefore, educating engineers to ensure safety in terms of robotics software and hardware is necessary. The United Kingdom sees this opportunity for the future of engineering education in robotics and expands the funding net for robotics company start-ups at the Royal Academy of Engineering.
One of the eight finalists is Alexander Enoch, a student at the University of Edinburgh. He wants to build a robot that costs less than £100 and would lead to education in "engineering and coding". Enoch, speaking to TheEngineer says, "I think robotics is a great example of how many aspects of engineering can all come together to make a complex system. There's already a shortage of engineers in the UK, and with automation becoming more commonplace it's really important that young people are given the opportunity to get engaged with as many aspects of engineering as possible."