A Job Plan for Robots and Humans

Tom Simonite for MIT Technology Review:  One perk of working for Melonee Wise’s startup Fetch is that if your feet are tired you can glide around the office on the back of a squat wheeled robot. More usually, she and her roughly 50 employees keep themselves busy designing, building, and selling the machines to work in warehouses or factories across the globe. The San Jose company’s machines are canny enough to work safely alongside people without requiring any changes to a facility—all they need is a map. Wise, one of MIT Technology Review’s 2015 Innovators Under 35, built her first robot, Zippy, in college,  out of plywood and scavenged computer parts. She spoke with San Francisco bureau chief Tom Simonite.

Do your robots replace people?

No one has ever lost a job because of our robots. Customers need us because they just can’t hire enough people. There’s 20 percent annual turnover and an estimated 600,000 jobs in the United States going unfilled.  Full Q&A:

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ST Robotics - R17HS-6, the 6-axis version of the high speed R17 variant

ST Robotics - R17HS-6, the 6-axis version of the high speed R17 variant

The 6-axis version of the R17HS high speed variant of the R17 robot is now available. As is our policy the 6th axis is an optional bolt-on module. At the same time we have made it even faster and new software eliminates shake and greatly improves repeatability as this video shows. Please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wG0MeiJ-yE. The video would seem to imply a repeatability of 0.01mm but we are sticking with 0.2mm in the spec. The motor specialist was able to tune the motors from the other side of the pond. My first reaction when we put power on and entered the first commands was to jump back in amazement (and maybe an expletive). Tip speed is now 3m/s; that's 3 times as fast as its nearest competitor yet costs half the price. I love it when a plan comes together.