Alphabet is set to create robots to take over menial tasks - Robotics Online
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Alphabet is set to create robots to take over menial tasks

30 Dec 2019

Menial tasks such as taking out the trash and sorting them into their similar counterparts sound pretty easy, right? As easy as it sounds, that is one of the most poorly performed tasks by humans, but what if there is an ongoing development that will help you do this task successfully? Yes, take out the trash and sort them out perfectly with no supervising.

Google’s home parent, Alphabet is planning to develop robots that can appropriately perform tedious and repetitive activities, as well as assist the disabled and elderly. The early-stage research and development team, Alphabet X, has been involved in creating robots using programming, machine learning, and AI to help perform decluttering tasks in an unorganized and unpredictable human surrounding.

The designed robot is built with a base with wheels designed to allow for movement from one place to another, a single-arm to allow for carrying, dumping, and sorting of wastes, and its head is also built with sensors that include LIDAR for 3-dimensional scanning. Some of the robot features are similar to the mechanism, style, and even parts of Alphabet’s self-driving car, Waymo.

This trash-conscious robot called Everyday robot has been in development for years but is just coming into the limelight after the X team started a public showcase.

When did the project start?

Surprisingly, the Everyday robot project started from a multi-million spending mess that occurred in 2013 when Google Executive, Andy Rubin stepped down as an executive in Google’s Android mobile software division and went on a spending spree acquiring a huge number of startups to the X lab for more experience.

Alphabets founding parent, Google gained a wide range of technologies ranging from robotics parts to the popular Boston Dynamics robotic police dog used in public surveillance.

Mr. Rubin never developed a strategic use of these acquired startups until his exit in 2014 because of a suspected sexual assault case, leaving the collections to the existing workers.

Brondmo joined the startup in 2016 and created functioning machines from the lab of disjointed robotics part. Everyday robots became the first successful development to go public.

Are the robots only limited to sorting trash in Alphabet’s office?

For now, the Everyday robots are under review and in X home, a mall turned home in Mountain View, for further scrutinizing and review. 30 of the robots are tested in rounds to sort the trash station produced by the second upper room in X’s room or sent to the nearby factory building; this will help the robot practice their navigation skills and also help them produce better efficiency when sort recycling compostable from landfill waste products.

In an interview with the Norwegian executive of this project, Hans Brondmo stated that trash sorting is not his final project, as there are more plans in the future to build robots that can satisfy other goals. He believes that he and his team are going to build robots that can live amongst the human environment perfectly and help us in our daily lives.

Sorting trash was chosen to be the most convenient problem to test a robot’s approach to solving problems, and the experiment was to see how the robots utilize the artificial intelligence developed in collaboration with Google AI in solving easy tasks without the need for supervision, he added.

The robot uses a control system backed by over five months of experience sorting trash five days a week. These machines have been recorded to have an accuracy rate of 96% compared to their employee’s 80% success rate in taking and sorting out trash successfully.

The future of the robots

There have been long debates on the future functionality of robots. Justin Rembisz, a robot designer playing a functional role in Everyday robot development, said that due to the early process in its production method, the robots don’t function as they should.

Although the robots operate properly, they failed to function in an environment or condition away from their playpen of the X building. Sarah Coe, the lead in the dedicated forensic team, stated that the change in light intensity in other environments confuses the sensor radars on the robots rendering them incapable.

Hundreds of adjustments are being put in place by Brondmo to perfect the robot and even his 83 years old grandmother can’t seem to wait as she constantly asked him for the official release.

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