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 Develops the Workspace Sentry for Collaborative Robotics

ST Robotics Develops the Workspace Sentry for Collaborative Robotics

The ST Robotics Workspace Sentry robot and area safety system are based on a small module that sends an infrared beam across the workspace. If the user puts his hand (or any other object) in the workspace, the robot stops using programmable emergency deceleration. Each module has three beams at different angles and the distance a beam reaches is adjustable. Two or more modules can be daisy chained to watch a wider area. "A robot that is tuned to stop on impact may not be safe. Robots where the trip torque can be set at low thresholds are too slow for any practical industrial application. The best system is where the work area has proximity detectors so the robot stops before impact and that is the approach ST Robotics has taken," states President and CEO of ST Robotics David Sands.