Posts tagged with "Robotics"

IRobot to expand from Roomba vacuums and lawnmowers to household helpers with arms

January 13, 2020

Need a little more help around the house? Bedford, Massachusetts-based IRobot, maker of the disc-shaped Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, hopes to have a product on the market within five years that will have arms to load dishes, pick up clothes, or bring food from kitchen to table, The Boston Globe reports.

Indeed, prototypes of the arms have been produced in the told the Globe in an interview on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. IRobot’s main new hardware launch for 2020 will be its Terra lawnmower.

The company, which has been in business for 20 years, previously developed robotic-arm technology for its military business unit. The company sold that business in 2016 but kept the arm assets.

At the time, the company didn’t know how to adapt the technology for mainstream use, Angle said, but new advancements in computer vision and the ability for robots to map out a person’s home make such devices possible.

Other technology companies also are working on home robots, including Amazon and Samsung Electronics, according to the Globe—but so far they are focusing on devices with video conferencing and voice assistants, rather than the ability to actually perform physical tasks.

The trade war between the U.S. and China could put a damper on iRobot’s ambitions in the near term. Angle said it’s had a “negative impact” on business. “We are having to scale back R&D and profitability” targets, he said. The company started shipping its lower-cost Roomba vacuum cleaner robots out of Malaysia, instead of China, in November, he said.

Research contact: @iRobot

Kroger and Nuro partner to pilot test autonomous grocery delivery

August 17, 2018

Watch out, Peapod and FreshDirect—and grocery delivery drivers nationwide. In June,  Kroger, which, with 2,800 food stores in 35 states, claims to be America’s largest supermarket retailer; and Nuro, which refers to itself as the “maker of the world’s first fully unmanned road vehicle,” announced a new partnership dedicated to offering same-day delivery of grocery orders placed through Kroger’s ClickList or Nuro’s app.

On August 16, the two companies announced the location for a pilot test of their new services, starting immediately in Scottsdale, Arizona. During the trial, the Kroger store, Fry’s Food, will fulfill orders placed on its site (frysfood.com) or via the Fry’s Food Stores mobile app. The price for the service will be a flat fee of $5.95, with no minimum order required. Grocery orders can be scheduled for same-day or next-day delivery by Nuro’s fleet of self-driving vehicles.

“Scottsdale is proud to be the home of Kroger and Nuro’s partnership,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “We welcome innovative technology that can benefit the lives of Scottsdale residents. We feel this partnership holds tremendous potential and promise; and offers our residents real, not-yet-experienced convenience for everyday routines.”

“We’re excited to launch our autonomous vehicle delivery pilot with Fry’s in Scottsdale,” said Kroger Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset. “Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery, and our pilot with Nuro will help us test and learn to understand customer acceptance of autonomous vehicles in our seamless offering. We thank Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and the Scottsdale community for being terrific partners and for supporting customer-focused innovation.”

“Arizona is home to some of the most innovative autonomous vehicle testing,” said Nuro Co-Founder Dave Ferguson. “We’re proud to contribute and turn our vision for local commerce into a real, accessible service that residents of Scottsdale can use immediately. Our goal is to save people time, while operating safely and learning how we can further improve the experience.”

Nuro will begin the pilot using its self-driving Toyota Prius fleet and will introduce its custom R1 driverless vehicle this fall. The unmanned delivery pods—about half the size of a Toyota Corolla—currently top out at about 25 miles per hour. Nuro has fitted Prius models in its fleet with its driverless software and sensors for the first Kroger pilot tests.

Dave Ferguson and co-founder Jiajun Zhu say they “have devoted their careers to robotics and machine learning”—most recently as Principal Engineers at Google’s self-driving car project (now Waymo). They founded Nuro in 2016 to harness the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to solve new challenges at a global scale.

“Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce,” said Ferguson. “Our safe, reliable, and affordable service, combined with Kroger’s ubiquitous brand, is a powerful first step in our mission to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life.”

Research contact: @KrogerNews